Bobcats-Celtics Preview


Following a season-worst four-game losing streak, the Boston Celtics are hoping to respond with their best stretch in more than two years.

The Celtics appear to have a strong chance to make that happen on Monday night when they host a Charlotte Bobcats team looking to snap another losing streak.

After losing eight of its previous 10 games, Boston (19-17) bounced back to win five straight by an average of 10.6 points. Four have come against teams with above-.500 records, including the Celtics' 103-91 victory over visiting Houston on Friday night.

With a win over the lowly Bobcats, Boston will have its longest winning streak since reeling off 14 straight victories from Nov. 22 - Dec. 22, 2010.

"I feel good. I feel like we are building,'' said Paul Pierce, who had a team-high 23 points against the Rockets. "We're getting better and better.''

Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined for 60 points while shooting 20 for 40 from the floor in Boston's 102-95 win at Charlotte last March.

While Brandon Bass has averaged just 6.0 points in five games since returning to the starting lineup, he could be a factor against the Bobcats. The forward has scored 17.3 points per game in his last four in the series, including 22 with Garnett and Pierce out in a 94-82 win in the most recent meeting last April.

The Celtics have received a boost from their reserves, who have outscored their opponents' counterparts 67-41 in their last two games.

Center Jared Sullinger has keyed the effort with 26 points on 13-of-18 (72.2 percent) shooting and 27 rebounds in his last two.

After shooting just 25.0 percent (12 for 48) from beyond the arc in their previous three games, the Celtics made 9 of 23 (39.1 percent) against the Rockets.

They should be able to maintain their outside touch against the Bobcats, who have allowed their last three opponents to make at least 10 3-pointers while shooting 42.9 percent (33 for 77) from that distance.

"Everybody's not satisfied, but happy around here,'' Garnett said. "We've been working really hard to get to this point.''

Boston will try not to look past Charlotte (9-27), which has dropped three consecutive contests and 22 of 24 by an average of 11.0 points. The Bobcats have also lost 9 of 11 in the series, with the Celtics winning all three meetings last season.

After winning two road games in a row following an 18-game losing streak, Charlotte dropped its second straight road contest in a 96-88 loss at Indiana on Saturday. Ben Gordon has been a bright spot for the Bobcats, averaging 19.6 points on 52.6 percent shooting this month after scoring a team-high 21 against the Pacers.

Gerald Henderson looks to continue his recent success against the Celtics. The starting guard has scored 43 points while shooting 19 for 33 (57.8 percent) from the field in the last two meetings.

Kemba Walker, however, has totaled just 15 on 3-of-17 shooting in his last two in the series.

Charlotte will take any offensive spark it can get after averaging 83.0 points on 41.8 percent shooting in its last two.

It doesn't figure to get any easier against a Boston team that has limited opponents to 84.4 points per game and 39.2 percent shooting during its win streak.