Two Atlantic Division foes preparing for the playoffs go at it one last time in the regular season with the Boston Celtics set to host the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday night at TD Garden.
The Celtics are in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Chicago for the fifth seed, while the Nets have a seemingly comfortable grip on the No. 4 slot. Brooklyn is three games ahead of the Bulls.
Boston will wrap up a four-game homestand versus the Nets and moved to 2-1 on the residency with Sunday's 107-96 win over the Washington Wizards. Brandon Bass had 20 points and six rebounds, and Paul Pierce finished with 15 points and five assists for the Celtics, who are 4-3 in their last seven games and improved to 27-12 as the host.
"He's comfortable in everything he's doing. You know the thing about Brandon is we don't run a lot of plays but he seems to always be in the right spots, available, taking advantage of his opportunities to move the ball, and that's what you're seeing," Pierce said of Bass.
Kevin Garnett returned from an eight-game absence because of injury to post 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. Having Garnett healthy for a playoff push is vital for the Celtics and the future Hall of Famer is nine games shy of passing Moses Malone (1,329) for 10th on the all-time games played list.
Boston will visit Miami and Orlando after this homestand.
The Nets will begin their final road trip of the regular season, a three-game jaunt through Boston, Indiana and Toronto. They just went 5-3 on a season-long eight-game trek from March 18-April 3.
Brooklyn closed out a three-game homestand (2-1) with Tuesday's 104-83 pummeling of the rival Philadelphia 76ers as Reggie Evans compiled 17 points and 24 rebounds and Brook Lopez added 29 points and 11 boards.
Sixers center Spencer Hawes was impressed by Brooklyn's big men.
"Brook draws a lot of attention when he has the ball and that gives Reggie the green light to do what he does best," said Hawes. "Reggie can rebound and put the ball back up for easy points. They both beat us really bad tonight."
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and MarShon Brooks contributed 11 points apiece in the win, Brooklyn's third in the last four tries.
The Nets are 21-17 away from home this season and have defeated the Celtics twice in three tries this season. Boston, though, is still a dominant 20-5 in the previous 25 meetings and 9-2 in the last 11 encounters at home.