Guess who's back on top in the Atlantic Division?
Those pesky Boston Celtics have certainly righted the ship since losing their first three games of the season and will try for their fourth consecutive victory tonight against the division-rival New Jersey Nets.
Boston completed a sweep of a home-and-home series against the Washington Wizards with Monday's 100-92 victory, as veteran sharp-shooter Ray Allen netted 11 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and Paul Pierce chipped in 21 points and eight rebounds for Boston, which has gone 3-0 since Pierce's return from an injured right heel. The Celtics took the first meeting with Washington by a 94-86 score on Sunday in D.C.
"[We're] glad we got the win," Pierce said. "It wasn't pretty, it's not always going to be pretty especially in a back-to-back situation."
Brandon Bass added 14 points off the bench, while Greg Stiemsma, starting in place of the injured Jermaine O'Neal, posted 13 points and seven rebounds in extended minutes for Boston. The Celtics are in the midst of playing five straight and eight of nine games in Beantown.
O'Neal is listed as probable for Wednesday with tightness in his left hamstring. He suffered the injury against the Wizards on Sunday.
New Jersey won its first game of the season, a 90-84 triumph at Washington, but has lost five in a row, including three in a row as the visitor.
In Monday's 108-94 home loss versus the Indiana Pacers, Deron Williams compiled 22 points and eight assists, while MarShon Brooks contributed 21 points and seven rebounds for the Nets, who got 10 points and five rebounds from Damion James.
"We're 1-5 and fortunately we have 60 more games," Nets head coach Avery Johnson said postgame.
New Jersey struggled on offense, hitting 37 percent from the field and 25 percent (7-of-28) from long range. The team is already without center Brook Lopez (broken foot) and did not have power forward Kris Humphries because of a sprained left shoulder.
Humphries was scheduled to travel with the team to Boston but it's unlikely he will play.
The Nets will play two straight and six of eight games as the visitor. They lost three of four meetings with Boston a year ago and are only 3-16 in the previous 19 matchups in this series. New Jersey has lost two straight and seven of its last eight contests at TD Garden.
Pierce led the Celtics with 16.0 ppg to go along with 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steal in the four encounters with the Nets.