A home-and-home series got the Boston Celtics back on track. Perhaps familiarity will help them again.
Winners of two straight following a subpar stretch, the Celtics play the first of consecutive games against the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night.
Boston (31-9) had lost four straight and seven of nine before sweeping a home-and-home series with Toronto, winning 94-88 on the road Sunday before heading home for a 115-109 overtime victory on Monday night.
Now the Celtics will host the Nets (19-19), then travel to New Jersey on Saturday. The Nets, meanwhile, face Portland on Thursday night before its return game with Boston.
A couple of games against New Jersey could help the Celtics build some momentum. Boston went 4-0 against the Nets last season, holding them to 85.3 points per game, and have won five straight in the series since a 92-78 loss at home on Feb. 9, 2007.
Paul Pierce, who averaged 17.0 points and shot 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from 3-point range against New Jersey in 2007-08, is coming off a big game for the Celtics.
In Monday’s contest, the veteran swingman scored nine of his season-high 39 points in OT. Pierce played 49 minutes despite coach Doc Rivers’ pregame fears that the right knee he hurt in Sunday’s game might sideline him.
“Y’all need to start playing some of that “Superman” theme music in the building when he’s going like that,” Celtics star Kevin Garnett said. “I’ll be Batman. I’ll be Robin. “I’ll be anybody you want me to be. I’ll be the garbage man. But this is Clark Kent right here.”
One day after Ray Allen’s 36 points carried Boston at Toronto, Pierce led a comeback from a 10-point deficit midway through the third quarter. He hurt his knee Sunday in a collision with teammate Brian Scalabrine.
Pierce is averaging 30.3 points while shooting 58.0 percent from the field and 60.0 percent from beyond the arc in his last three home games.
“There’s players who play the game. There’s players who absolutely love the game,” Rivers said. “Paul’s one of those ‘love’ guys. … He’s tough as nails.”
Pierce helped Boston overcome the absence of starting center Kendrick Perkins, who has missed two straight games due to a left shoulder strain. His status for Wednesday’s contest is uncertain.
New Jersey got starting point guard Devin Harris back from injury Monday night in a 103-99 overtime win over Oklahoma City. Harris, back after missing three of the previous four games with a hamstring injury, had 17 points and eight assists.
With Yi Jianlian out four to six weeks with a broken figure, Nets rookie Ryan Anderson got his first NBA start. Anderson, who did not play in New Jersey’s previous four games, had six points and nine rebounds.
“I have to shake the rust off, that’s what I have to do,” Anderson said. “I’ll just build off this. I know I’m going to improve and get back in the rhythm of things.”
New Jersey got an outstanding performance from another rookie big man, with Brook Lopez scoring a season-high 31 points while pulling down 13 rebounds. He’s averaging 14.4 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.1 blocks in his last seven contests, and shooting 91.3 percent (21-for-23) from the foul line during that span.