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Nets-Celtics Preview

Feb 26, 2010 - 6:49 PM By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO STATS Writer

New Jersey (5-52) at Boston (36-20), 1:00 p.m. EDT

The Atlantic Division-leading Boston Celtics didn't fare well without Paul Piece in their last game. They might not need him against the NBA-worst New Jersey Nets.

While Pierce's status is uncertain, the Celtics look to continue their dominance of the lowly Nets and sweep the season series for a third consecutive time Saturday afternoon.

Pierce, Boston's leader with 17.9 points per game, has missed two games with an injured right thumb, while also battling the flu. The star forward sustained the injury in a win over the Lakers on Feb. 18, and played the next two contests before sitting out Tuesday's 110-106 win over New York.

The Celtics (36-20) felt his absence Thursday, falling 108-88 to league-leading Cleveland at TD Garden. They turned in a sluggish second half, getting outscored by 28 points while shooting 3 of 21 in the fourth quarter.

"We didn't come here to put on a show," forward Kevin Garnett told the team's official Web site. "We can't just play one half and then relax, especially against a good team, a proven team, a team full of veterans and guys who are eager."

Boston isn't sure if Pierce will be ready, but the team could opt to rest him against the Nets (5-52), losers of 12 of 13.

The Celtics have won 12 in a row against New Jersey, including five straight in Boston by an average of 15.2 points. They're also in position to sweep the season series for a third time in a row after winning 96-87 at home Feb. 5 behind Ray Allen's 26 points while Pierce was out with a foot injury.

Pierce had 24 points to spur a 111-87 win at New Jersey on Jan. 13, and is averaging 18.3 points during the series winning streak.

Allen, second to Pierce with 16.6 per game, has increased his production of late. The guard is averaging 23.0 points over five games after scoring 21 against the Cavaliers.

The Nets are a league-worst 2-27 on the road, but won their last game as visitors by beating Charlotte 103-94 on Feb. 16. They failed to build on any possible momentum by getting swept in a four-game homestand, capped by Tuesday's 102-93 loss to Portland as their comeback from a 21-point third-quarter deficit fell short.

"It's frustrating because of the effort to fight back," said guard Courtney Lee, who tied his career high with 28 points Tuesday. "If we started the game like that, it would have been a little different. But once you are down by so much and you are giving it you're all to come back, it takes a lot out of you."

Devin Harris, who also scored 28 against the Trail Blazers, is averaging 21.0 points and 8.8 assists over the last six games. The guard has put together averages of 18.3 points and 7.5 assists in his last four meetings with the Celtics.

  • 43
    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Nets 104, Celtics 96  FinalFeb 28 2:49 AM

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    NEW JERSEY 104

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    Flaw Added 5 roots

    Nets 103, Celtics 94  4th - 0:44Feb 27 3:27 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 33 roots (Close Finish)

    Nets 98, Celtics 92  4th - 2:05Feb 27 3:19 PM

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