It seems very unlikely Doc Rivers will keep Paul Pierce or any of his top players out of this matchup with the Charlotte Bobcats considering how his Boston Celtics fared against them earlier this week.
A blowout by the lowly Bobcats was the result as Pierce was given a night off, leaving the Celtics in position to lose this season series for the first time if they don’t extend their 10-game home winning streak Saturday night.
Those lengthy runs ending doesn’t appear likely given the fact Charlotte’s only two victories in its last 18 road games both came in Orlando, the team closest to the Bobcats (14-51) for the league’s worst record. They’ve lost their last six road games by an average of 22.6 points.
However, they had dropped 10 straight overall before hosting Boston (35-29) on Tuesday, when Rivers decided to rest Pierce. Charlotte then rolled to a 100-74 victory as Gerald Henderson’s career-high 35 points highlighted the Bobcats’ most lopsided win in three years.
“That just wasn’t our team. I was looking around, wondering where I was at,” Pierce said after the loss. “That wasn’t a team I recognized.”
One reason Rivers sat the 35-year-old Pierce was the Celtics having to play the next day. For this matchup, Charlotte will be taking the court for a second straight night following Friday’s 92-78 loss at Toronto.
The Bobcats haven’t won this season series since entering the league in 2004 - they lead the current one 2-1 - and are looking to win three straight over the Celtics for the first time. However, they’re 3-12 in Boston, including a 100-89 defeat Jan. 14.
Rajon Rondo had 17 points and 12 assists in that meeting but has missed the last two, including a 94-91 loss Feb. 11. The Bobcats won’t mind if Pierce also sits out.
“Hopefully he rests when we play them again on Saturday,” Ben Gordon said Tuesday when asked if Rivers sitting Pierce was a slap in the face. “Tell him to go get more rest.”
That seems unlikely with the Celtics off since Wednesday when Pierce and Kevin Garnett played less than 24 minutes apiece, having both climbed the career scoring list in a 112-88 rout of Toronto. As Garnett had 12 points to reach 25,201 and pass Jerry West for 15th all-time, Pierce scored 15 to get to 23,763 and pass Charles Barkley for No. 20.
“The joke around here is that every two days or something we’re making history,” said the 36-year-old Garnett, now 78 points behind Reggie Miller for 14th place. “It’s not a bad joke to be a part of.”
Rivers had a joke of his own when describing the play of Jeff Green averaging 15.2 points since the All-Star break after scoring 10.3 per game before it. Green had 20 points Wednesday after combining for 22 on 6-of-22 shooting in the previous two games.
“He has these big games sometimes and okay games… He wants to be the McDonald’s,” Rivers said. “You know what you’re getting every time. Same quality. Every single time. Fries are always good.”
Rivers’ team, which hosts league-best Miami on Monday, is riding its longest single-season home winning streak since a 13-game run in 2008-09.
Boston will look to slow Henderson, who had a team-high 22 points Friday. Kemba Walker added 20 but shot 5 for 17 and is at 32.5 percent in March.
Charlotte is shooting 38.8 percent this month.