Game Preview: Celtics at Bobcats
Although they've been one of the most surprising teams in the league, the Charlotte Bobcats are still struggling to pick up victories on their own floor.
With Al Jefferson looking to finally move past a nagging ankle injury, the Bobcats hope to turn things around in Charlotte on Monday night and deal the Boston Celtics a loss.
The Bobcats believed they landed a much-needed force in the paint by signing Jefferson to a reported three-year deal worth $40.5 million in July. The center had averaged 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in his previous three seasons with Utah.
Jefferson, however, has been limited throughout his first season in Charlotte after suffering a sprained ankle during the preseason. He's averaged 14.6 points and 7.8 boards in only five games, missing a total of nine games over two separate stints.
After finishing with nine points and six rebounds following a four-game absence in Friday's loss to visiting Phoenix, Jefferson continued to inch closer to his old form with 19 and seven in Saturday's 96-72 victory at Milwaukee.
"My first game back, I was a little rusty," said Jefferson, who will try to make it through his third game in four nights. "But it never fails the second game. It like clicked."
Jefferson had his best game against the team that took him in the first round of the 2004 draft with 22 points and 11 rebounds in an 89-83 win in Boston on Nov. 13. He's averaged 19.2 points and 13.4 boards during a streak of five straight double-doubles in this matchup.
Gerald Henderson is also playing well, totaling 34 points on 13-of-24 shooting in his last two games. In the most recent meeting in Charlotte, Henderson had 35 points in a 100-74 victory over the Celtics on March 12.
Backcourt mate Kemba Walker leads the Bobcats with 15.6 points per game, but he finished with a season-low three on 1-of-13 shooting in Boston earlier this month.
While the Bobcats have won two of three overall to get back to .500 following a 21-win season in 2012-13, they're looking to carry over an outstanding defensive road effort to their home court.
Charlotte has allowed 83.6 points on 38.4 percent shooting while winning four of five road games, but it has given up 98.0 per game and a 47.6 field-goal percentage in losing four of five at home.
The Bobcats, who limited the Celtics to 37.7 percent shooting Nov. 13, seek their third straight home win versus Boston after taking both meetings there last year.
Jeff Green led the Celtics with a combined 32 points in those contests, and he finished with a team-high 19 in this month's meeting. He's also averaging 18.3 points on 19-of-37 from the field in his last three games overall.
Green finished with 16 points, while Brandon Bass had 17, seven rebounds and two key blocks as the Celtics snapped a six-game losing streak with a 94-87 win in Atlanta on Saturday.
"We showed great resolve," said Bass, who returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench for two games. "When things got tough, we stuck together. The losing streak was wearing on us. It was a great time to get a win."
Boston will be without rookie Kelly Olynyk, who is expected to miss at least two weeks due to a sprained ankle.