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Celtics looking to spoil Cavaliers perfect home record

Jan 9, 2009 - 11:45 AM Boston (29-8) at Cleveland (28-6) 8:00 p.m. EST

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- The Boston Celtics' recent slump cost them a lofty home winning streak.

The Celtics have a chance to bounce back and take out their angst on a budding rival when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

The defending NBA Champions, Boston has lost six of eight following a franchise-record, 19-game winning streak, including an 89-85 setback to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

The loss was the Celtics' third in a row and snapped a 13-game winning streak at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Paul Pierce, who had 26 points against the Rockets, accounts the recent slide to a lapse in defense.

"Right now, our defense is not getting the job done," Pierce said. "When you look at us, that's one of the first things we talk about. That's the type of team we are and, when we don't defend it doesn't allow us to get out and run the break.

"We're not causing turnovers like we want to. I told the guys we need to get our defensive swagger back. It's been broken these last 10 or 12 days. We know what we're capable of; it's just about going back to the basics and doing what we do."

Defense was key for Boston during last season's run to the title, particularly in the Eastern Conference semifinals when it was pushed to seven games by LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

James and the rest of the team have not forgotten about that series or the 90-85 season-opening loss they endured against Celtics.

Cleveland, which owns the top spot in the East, would like nothing more to prove its standing against second-place Boston and earn its 19th straight home victory, a streak the Celtics would love to end.