The most storied team in NBA history has a chance to match one of its most storied records.
The Celtics (25-2) have shown no championship hangover after winning their NBA-most 17th title last season, and now can match their club-record 18-game winning streak established from Feb. 24-March 26, 1982. The current 17-game run is tied for the eighth-best winning streak in NBA history and is the longest in the league since Houston’s 22-game run from Jan. 29-March 18.
A victory would also match the best 28-game start in NBA history, first accomplished by the 1966-67 76ers and equaled by the 1969-70 Knicks. Both of those teams eventually won the NBA title.
Boston, which didn’t have a winning streak longer than 10 in its 2007-08 championship run, is coming off its best offensive game of the season, shooting 59.5 percent in a 126-108 victory over Chicago on Friday.
“We make sure we try to share the ball at all times,” said Perkins, who nearly tripled his season average of 9.0 points. “It turns out that everybody ended up getting their points. Rondo had 15 assists, and when he’s pushing the ball like that, we’re hard to guard.”
Sometimes lost in the offensive shuffle behind the “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, both Perkins and Rondo have made significant contributions during the winning streak. Perkins has averaged 10.9 points and 8.8 rebounds with four double-doubles while shooting 62.0 percent, and Rondo has contributed 12.6 points, 8.2 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game while making 55.0 percent of his shots in the 17 wins.
Both players made key contributions in these teams’ only meeting this season, the second win in Boston’s current streak and its seventh straight versus the Knicks. Perkins had 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while Rondo added 15 points, eight boards and seven assists in a 110-101 home win on Nov. 18.
The Celtics are 15-1 at home, and including last season’s playoffs, have won 34 of their last 36 at TD Banknorth Garden.
The Knicks (11-15) have lost three straight, and are trying to regroup from a 105-81 drubbing by Milwaukee on Friday. New York committed 23 turnovers that led to 30 points for the Bucks.
“It’s back to the drawing board,” said Al Harrington, who had 16 points off the bench but shot 6-of-17. “We obviously have a very tough opponent in our next game. We’ll just have to lick our wounds and see what we can do in Boston.”
New York remains one of the worst defensive teams in the league at 107.2 points per game, and has allowed 110.7 per contest during its losing streak. The Knicks have been outscored by 14.2 points per game in their seven-game skid to the Celtics, allowing them to shoot 50.3 percent - including 53.2 percent in the Nov. 18 defeat.