After New Jersey lost to Boston four days ago, the Nets’ Richard Jefferson declared the Celtics would not finish the season undefeated.
While the thought of an NBA team posting a perfect record over 82 games is far-fetched, it’s still mathematically possible for Boston.
Jefferson and the Nets try once again to hand the Celtics their first loss when the Atlantic Division rivals face each other Wednesday night at TD Banknorth Garden.
Boston continued its early-season superiority on Saturday, when it improved to 5-0 after a 112-101 win at New Jersey in which the Celtics’ new “Big Three” all made significant contributions. Paul Pierce scored 28 points, Ray Allen added 27 and Kevin Garnett had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Jefferson led the Nets with 28 points, but refused to put too much stock in the game’s result.
“It’s one game,” he said. “We’re not going to play our best ball now. Right now, they are on a roll. They are not going to go undefeated. I will stand by that.”
But the Celtics (6-0) remained the league’s lone unbeaten team Tuesday night, beating Indiana 101-86 on the road behind 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists from Pierce. Garnett had 18 points and 11 boards for his sixth double-double in as many games, and Allen chipped in 17 points.
Boston has won its first six games for the first time since 1987-88, and has done it convincingly. The Celtics have posted victories in five of their six games by double figures, and their average victory margin is more than 16 points.
Last season, they didn’t win their sixth game until Dec. 9, when they already had 13 losses.
“You saw me last year,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “Did it look like we were having a lot of fun? Winning means fun. Even if at times our guys know we are a better team than what we show, when you like each other, and you’re winning, that is fun.”
The franchise record for consecutive wins to start a season is 14, by the 1957-58 club.
Meanwhile, the Nets (4-3) are trying to bounce back from their first consecutive losses of the season. Jefferson had a season-high 32 on Monday, but failed to score in the fourth quarter of an 84-82 home loss to New Orleans. Jason Kidd added 14 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in the contest, which New Orleans won on Chris Paul’s layup with 2.6 seconds remaining.
“We had an eight-, nine-point lead without me scoring in the fourth quarter. So obviously we were doing something right,” said Jefferson, who has led New Jersey in scoring in every game this season. “My job is to get my teammates open. In the third quarter I had a bunch of shots, in the fourth quarter we had great looks. We just made a couple of bonehead plays down the stretch that didn’t allow us to finish it out.”
The Nets are trying to avoid their first three-game skid since they dropped five in a row from March 3-10, a slide which also began with a home loss to Boston.
The road team has dominated this series recently, taking the last five matchups. The Nets have won their last three visits to Boston since a 99-96 defeat Jan. 20, 2006.