The Celtics try to avoid losing three straight at home for the first time in more than two years when they host the Mavericks on Monday.
Boston (27-11) has a comfortable 7 1/2-game lead in the Atlantic Division, but the Celtics have been inconsistent recently, losing six of 10 overall and their last two at home. They struggled in a 96-83 loss to Chicago on Thursday - their eighth straight contest without Kevin Garnett(notes) (hyper-extended right knee). Rasheed Wallace(notes) (sore left foot) was also out for a third straight game.
Garnett is expected to sit out at least two more games, while Wallace may return Monday night.
Without the frontcourt presence of Garnett and Wallace, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics 50-39, and Boston gave up 48 points in the paint.
Possibly most concerning for a team playing three of its next four at home, the Celtics underwhelmed for a second straight game at TD Garden after losing 102-96 to Atlanta last Monday. Boston’s six home losses have already matched last season’s total.
“It’s a concern,” Rivers said Saturday. “I don’t know if we’ve lost the edge or not, but we have to be better at home, and you can’t blame those (losses) on injuries because (for) most of them we were healthy.
“These next two weeks are going to be tough because we’ll be trying to get guys back. But I look at the All-Star break and if our team is (completely healthy) then we have to try to run the stretch for home games. We have to try to win every one.”
The Celtics haven’t lost three in a row at home since dropping their final four home games in 2006-07. They’ve won their last two home meetings with Dallas.
The Mavericks (26-14) are also seeking to bounce back following an embarrassing performance of their own in a 110-88 loss at Toronto on Sunday to open a season-high five-game road trip.
It was the fourth straight game and eighth time in nine Dallas failed to reach 100 points. The Mavericks, who lead the Spurs by 1 1/2 games in the Southwest Division, have dropped three of four.
Dirk Nowitzki(notes) led the Mavericks with 19 points, but Toronto outscored Dallas 23-9 on the fast break led by as many as 26. It was the third loss in four games overall for the Mavericks, who have alternated wins and losses in their last six away from home.
“We’ve got to get out of here, we’ll look at some of the problems that we had,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We don’t have a big turnaround time. We’ve got to get ready to play Boston.”
Dallas has lost four straight overall to Boston, topping 92 points only once during that stretch despite Nowitzki averaging 27.0 points.