If the New Jersey Nets hope to win their fifth straight game for the first time in three years they will have to take out the Boston Celtics, owners of the Eastern Conference's best record. The two teams will meet Monday night at The Prudential Center in Newark.
The Nets will once again have the services of point guard Deron Williams after he missed the last two games to be with his wife for the birth of their fourth child, Desmond. Even without their best player, Avery Johnson and the Nets continued their winning ways by taking both games he missed, including a 102-98 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime on Friday.
Jordan Farmar and Brook Lopez each scored 24 points to pace the Nets, while Kris Humphries delivered the muscle with 19 points and career-high 19 rebounds. Just as he did during the first meeting, Humphries played tough defense against Clippers star Blake Griffin.
The Celtics, meanwhile, are fresh off one of their most impressive victories of the season on Sunday night. Boston set a franchise record for fewest points allowed in the shot clock era when they defeated Milwaukee, 87-56.
Ray Allen scored 17 points, Paul Pierce had 14 and Nenad Krstic added 11 points and a game-best 14 rebounds for the Celtics, winners in nine of their last 12 games. Boston held the Bucks to 31 percent shooting and had a 50-32 advantage on the backboards.
These two teams have already met three times this season with the Celtics taking all three. The latest was a 94-90 setback on February 16, in a game that was tied with less than 10 minutes remaining before Boston ran away down the stretch.
The Nets are winless against the Celtics over their last nine meetings in New Jersey.
Things don't get any easier for Avery Johnson's crew with the Chicago Bulls coming into Thursday to wrap up the Nets home stand.