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News » Wizards-Celtics Preview

Wizards-Celtics Preview

Wizards-Celtics Preview
The road-weary Boston Celtics lost more games on their four-game West Coast trip than they had all season going into it.

A return to the TD Banknorth Garden - and a visit from the Eastern Conference's worst team - would seem be the perfect remedy.

The defending NBA champions will try to rebound from their disappointing trip and win their 13th straight home game when the Washington Wizards visit Boston on Friday.

The Celtics (28-5) carried a franchise-record 19-game winning streak into their trip, which they knew would include a pair of difficult games against the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland. Not only did they drop both of those games, but they also lost 99-89 at Golden State last Friday, with their 108-63 drubbing of Sacramento the only victory during the trip.

They jumped out to a 10-point lead after the first quarter against the Brandon Roy-less Trail Blazers on Tuesday, but shot just 40.3 percent for the game and lost 91-86 despite 28 points from Paul Pierce.

"Down the stretch we just made bad plays," said Boston guard Ray Allen, who was just 2-of-11 from the field. "That's been the theme of the last three games we've lost."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers singled out rebounding as one of the major problems against the Blazers, who held a 44-29 edge in that category.

"I thought they absolutely destroyed us on the boards," Rivers said. "Our bench had two rebounds - the entire bench had two rebounds. ... It's very difficult to win (like that)."

That hasn't been a problem at home, where the team has outrebounded the opposition 11 times in the last 12 home games - winning a dozen in a row. The Celtics are 17-1 overall at home this season, with their lone loss coming to Denver on Nov. 14.

Though known primarily for its defensive prowess, Boston has been especially potent on offense during the home winning streak, during which Rivers' club has averaged 108.1 points and shot 51.6 percent from the field. Point guard Rajon Rondo has often been the standout lately, averaging 18.3 points and 8.0 assists while shooting 65.1 percent (28-of-43) in the last four home games.

Including playoffs, the Celtics have won 36 of 38 at home dating to last season.

The Wizards (6-24) were one of just six visiting teams to win in Boston last season, when they took three of four overall against the Celtics en route to their fourth straight playoff berth.

But none of that has carried over to 2008-09. The Celtics already won 122-88 at Washington on Dec. 11, part of the Wizards' woeful start has them surprisingly in the East's cellar.

Even though leading scorer Caron Butler remains questionable with an ankle sprain, the Wizards have looked a little better recently, winning their first two games without the All-Star, including Monday's 89-87 victory at Houston.

But Washington continued its three-game trip with a 97-85 loss at New Orleans on Tuesday, fading late and falling to 2-12 on the road. The bright spot was again Antawn Jamison, who scored 22 points and 12 rebounds and now has 81 points in three games without Butler.

"He plays very, very hard," Washington coach Ed Tapscott said of Jamison. "I thought he brought his A game, as he usually does. He just didn't have enough from the rest of our guys. A lot of guys played hard, but we just couldn't get accomplished what we wanted to get accomplished."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 2, 2009


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