Game Preview: Celtics at Nets
While Deron Williams has regained his confidence on the current homestand, the Brooklyn Nets have only continued to build theirs at Barclays Center.
There's little reason to believe that trend won't extend into Thursday night when the Nets seek their 11th straight home victory in a matchup with the Boston Celtics, who haven't won a road game in more than a month.
With Brooklyn trailing by three points midway through the fourth quarter Wednesday, Williams scored 11 of his 23 points in the final six minutes to key a 104-99 victory over Charlotte.
The three-time All-Star has led the surging Nets to consecutive victories on this three-game stay at Barclays, totaling 53 points on 19-of-28 shooting with six 3-pointers.
"My confidence is getting back. That's a good thing for me," said Williams, who totaled 20 points on 6-of-22 shooting in two games prior to the homestand. "I tend to play well when my confidence is high."
Joe Johnson added 20 points and Shaun Livingston scored 17 as the Nets won for the nine time in 11 games overall. Their 10 straight home victories are the franchise's most since a 12-game streak in the 2005-06 season, and Brooklyn is a league-best 17-2 at home since Christmas.
Williams has averaged 19.5 points and hit 14 of 28 from 3-point range in six home games this month, while Johnson has scored 18.5 per game and made 18 of 33.
The Nets have moved within 2 1/2 games of Atlantic Division-leading Toronto despite being without Kevin Garnett, who hasn't played this month because of back spasms.
While Garnett misses what may be his last chance to face Boston - if he retires after the season - Paul Pierce looks to avoid another subpar outing against the team he and Garnett led to the 2008 NBA title.
Pierce has averaged 6.7 points on 6-of-24 shooting in three meetings since being traded to Brooklyn this summer, but the Nets have won two of them. Williams had 25 points in a 104-96 victory in the first matchup at Barclays on Dec. 10.
Boston now hopes to build on Wednesday's 101-96 home win over a Miami team missing LeBron James. Avery Bradley finished with 23 points and hit a career-high six 3-pointers as the Celtics snapped a five-game losing streak.
"I just have that confidence in my shot," said Bradley, who had 22 points in the December loss in Brooklyn.
Rajon Rondo has come close to triple-doubles in the last two matchups with the Nets, averaging 16.5 points, 8.5 assists and 7.5 rebounds, and he nearly had one Wednesday with nine points, 15 assists and 10 boards.
However, he's struggled from the field in nine road games with an average of 8.7 points on 27.8 percent shooting, including 1 of 17 from 3-point range.
The Celtics have shot 39.9 percent from the floor during a seven-game road losing streak which dates back to Feb. 10. They're tied for the league's fewest road wins since Jan. 10 with a 3-18 record.