Playoff-bound Celtics resume trek against Bobcats

Fresh off clinching a playoff berth, the Atlantic Division- leading Boston Celtics will get back to work tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats in the continuation of a four-game road trip.

The Celtics managed to lock up a postseason spot with last night's 94-82 triumph at New Jersey coupled with Milwaukee's loss to Indiana. Boston is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference standings -- three games behind Indiana with six to go. It is also 3 1/2 games ahead of both New York and Philadelphia for division bragging rights.

Boston has won 10 of its last 13 games and rebounded from Friday's loss at Toronto with a solid performance against the Nets. Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass both scored 18 for the Celtics, who are in the midst of playing back-to-back-to-back contests.

"We stretched minutes and then sat guys at different times," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of dealing with the grueling string of games. "I like the way we did it today better than yesterday. We played them semi-normal minutes, but we still got them some rest."

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo had 15 assists and has now handed out 10-plus assists in 21 straight games. Veteran sharpshooter Ray Allen missed his third straight game for Boston with a sore right ankle, and could rest again Sunday.

Boston is 14-16 outside of TD Garden and will close out the road swing Tuesday against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Charlotte is headed in the opposite direction and will begin a five-game homestand tonight versus the Celtics, Hornets, Bulls, Grizzlies and Kings. It has dropped 15 in a row and hasn't tasted victory since March 17 versus Toronto.

The Bobcats, who have lost eight in a row at home and are 4-23 at Time Warner Cable Arena, sustained a 105-82 beating in Miami on Friday, as Derrick Brown notched 21 points and nine rebounds in defeat. Charlotte is the only team in the NBA with single-digit victories at 7-51 and lost 16 in a row from Jan. 16- Feb. 15 this season.

"Obviously it's bad, but we need to continue to play as hard as we can to get ready for the future," said Brown. "That's the biggest thing, not giving up."

Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker had 14 and 11 points, respectively, for the Bobcats, who committed 20 turnovers for 22 Miami points.

Charlotte will try to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Celtics after dropping the first two meetings of the season. Boston has won eight of 10 against the Bobcats and seven of the past nine matchups as the guest.