Nets, Celtics set for matinee in Boston

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics will engage in a day-after Christmas matinee on Friday when the Atlantic Division rivals tangle at TD Garden.

The two teams are heading in opposite directions at the moment. Brooklyn is riding a two-game winning streak, while the Celts have fallen in their last two.

The Nets swept a recent mini homestand with a win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, then a victory over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.

Joe Johnson scored 27 points to lead the Nets to a 102-96 triumph over the Nuggets at Barclays Center. Mason Plumlee added 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Jarrett Jack supplied 17 points and eight assists for the Nets.

"I thought it was a great grind-it-out game. We showed a lot of composure and a lot of mental toughness," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said.

Brook Lopez (lower back strain) returned from an eight-game absence and had six points in over eight minutes of court time for the Nets.

Deron Williams sat out the last two victories with a strained right calf. He has returned to practice, although it's expected he won't start on Friday night.

The Nets, who have lost two straight on the road, return to Brooklyn on Saturday and play two there before hitting the road for three.

The Celtics made an unsuccessful swing through Florida earlier in the week. On Sunday, they fell to the Miami Heat, then two nights later, lost to the Orlando Magic.

Boston was game on Tuesday, nearly erasing a 27-point fourth-quarter lead. The Celtics held the Magic to 15 points over the final 10 minutes of the game, but didn't have enough.

Tyler Zeller scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace the Celtics, who have dropped two in a row on the heels of a three-game winning streak.

Jameer Nelson, playing his first game as a visitor in Orlando, finished with nine points and 11 assists and was vital in Boston's near comeback. Nelson made a 3-pointer and assisted on five other baskets during a 27-3 run that trimmed a 27-point deficit down to three, 90-87, coming down the stretch.

"He spurred us on and fired us up," Zeller said of Nelson.

However, it wasn't enough for the Celtics to come away with a victory.

Avery Bradley scored 20, followed by 14 from Kelly Olynyk off the bench. Brandon Bass chipped in 11 in a reserve role, while Nelson finished with nine points and 11 assists.

The Celtics defeated the Nets in Boston on Oct. 29 and have won two of the last three against Brooklyn. Boston has won six of its last nine as the host in this series.