A successful homestand has kept the New Jersey Nets in the thick of the playoff chase. However, this is their last chance for a while to benefit from the home-court advantage.
The Nets, looking to match their season high with a fourth straight win, won’t play at home again for nearly two weeks after facing the Boston Celtics on Saturday.
New Jersey (28-30) has won three in a row since opening a five-game homestand with a 111-107 loss to New Orleans on Feb. 21. The team won a season-high four straight from Jan. 15-20.
The Nets are 6-3 since losing four consecutive games from Jan. 31-Feb. 5, staying in position to grab one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. They’ll have a chance to stay hot Saturday against the Celtics (15-42), a team they’ve beaten in five of the last six meetings, including twice this season.
Boston, though, has won two in a row for the first time since winning five straight from Dec. 9-16. The Celtics also won 92-90 at New Jersey on Dec. 9.
Still, the Nets hopes to take advantage of this home game against the East’s worst team because of their upcoming schedule.
New Jersey follows this contest with a six-game road trip that includes matchups against three of the Western Conference’s top five teams—Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. After Saturday, the Nets’ next home game will be March 15 versus Miami.
In New Jersey’s most recent game, Vince Carter scored 27 points, Jason Kidd had 26 and reserve Bostjan Nachbar had 23 as the Nets hit a franchise-record 16 3-pointers in a 113-101 win over Washington on Tuesday.
“Guys started hitting shots,” said Carter, averaging 34.8 points in his last four games. “We were getting good looks from 3, so we were just taking the shots that were there.”
Kidd made 6-of-9 from 3-point range for New Jersey, which is shooting 42.7 percent from behind the arc during its three-game winning streak.
Boston snapped a 12-game road losing streak with a 77-72 win at Houston on Monday, and followed it up with a 102-94 home win over New York on Wednesday. The Celtics won once in their previous 23 games.
“Two games is good, we want to build on it and just get better,” said Paul Pierce, who had 24 points against the Knicks.
Al Jefferson had 26 points and nine rebounds Wednesday while NBA slam dunk champion Gerald Green scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. Jefferson had 29 points and 14 rebounds in the Celtics’ only win over the Nets this season.
Boston is seeking consecutive road wins for the first time since early January, but will have to do it without Wally Szczerbiak. The team recently learned the veteran swingman will have to undergo season-ending ankle surgery next week.
Szczerbiak, who averaged 15.0 points in 32 games this season, sprained his left ankle against Sacramento on Feb. 20.
“He kind of knew when he went down in the Sacramento game that it was pretty much over,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, whose team has been hit hard by injuries all season.