Celtics start local events early vs. Memphis
The Boston Celtics own an amazing 17 championships, the most by an NBA franchise.
Their neighbors across the way, the NFL's New England Patriots, can capture their fourth Super Bowl title Sunday night against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN.
Before possibly having some snacks and beverages watching the Patriots-Giants game, the Celtics have their own work to do and will host the Memphis Grizzlies in a matinee affair from TD Garden. The Celtics look to stay unbeaten on their current five-game homestand and improved to 2-0 on the residency thanks to a 91-89 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday in a rematch of a Christmas Day affair. New York won that game, 106-104.
Ray Allen scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter of the most recent encounter with the Knicks and Paul Pierce ended with 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Boston, which has won 10 in a row at home over the Knicks and three straight overall. Pierce described the intensity of the Atlantic Division showdown.
"Both teams were just fighting for it," Pierce said. "Was like a summer game where whoever won the game would make the NBA."
Boston has fought for seven wins in its last eight games and got 15 points and eight boards from Kevin Garnett. Garnett also grabbed the 10,000th defensive rebound of his career early in the second quarter, becoming just the third player in NBA history to reach that mark. Rajon Rondo had seven points, seven assists and five rebounds in his return to the lineup after missing eight games with a right wrist injury. The Celtics are 8-6 at home and will also welcome the Bobcats and despised Lakers to Beantown.
The Celtics sit four games behind Philadelphia for the division lead and are winless against the Western Conference this season (0-4). On the milestone watch, Pierce is 30 points shy of tying Larry Bird (21,791) for second on the team's all-time scoring list. John Havlicek has a comfortable spot at the top with 26,395 points. Pierce is probable for today's game with a strained hip and so is center Jermaine O'Neal (sore knee).
Memphis was sent back to the loss column with Friday's 101-94 setback at Oklahoma City and had a two-game winning streak stopped. Thunder superstar Kevin Durant poured in 36 points and hit the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute.
"He's a great player. I mean that's all you can say -- he's a great player. He made great plays and great shots down the stretch," Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins said about Durant. "He took over the game. He's going to be one of the all-time greats if he stays healthy."
Marc Gasol had 24 points and Rudy Gay ended with 23 for the Grizzlies, who have lost five of seven games since a season-high seven-game winning streak. Oklahoma City recorded 29 points off of Memphis' 19 giveaways, while the Grizzlies scored 26 points on 17 Thunder turnovers.
Former Celtics guard Tony Allen scored 17 points and O.J. Mayo added 13 in a reserve role. The Grizzlies are 1-1 on a three-game road trip, 5-8 as the visitor and three games behind San Antonio for the lead in the Southwest Division. They'll start a five-game homestand Monday versus the Spurs.
Gay has scored 20-plus points in three straight games and is averaging 17.9 points in nine career games against Boston. The Grizzlies and Celtics have split a home-and-home series in back-to-back seasons, but Boston has won 14 of the past 20 meetings between the teams. Pierce has recorded 21.5 ppg in 24 career matchups with Memphis. Garnett is averaging 19.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in 50 career games against the Grizzlies.
The Celtics possess an all-time record of 18-13 against Memphis, winners of four straight against Eastern Conference opponents.