The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors have held the top two spots in the Atlantic Division for most of the season. It just hasn't been much of a race.
The first-place Celtics look to extend their latest winning streak to four on Wednesday when they host the Raptors, also hoping to complete a season sweep of Toronto for the first time in a decade.
The Raptors (22-19) sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, in playoff position for the second straight season. But they're 12 games behind Boston in easily the NBA's most lopsided division race.
That gap appeared to be narrowing when the Celtics lost three of four earlier this month, but the Celtics (33-6) have steadied themselves offensively and put together another three-game winning streak.
They had averaged just 82.5 points over the four games from Jan. 9-14, but they've scored at least 100 in each of the last three, including Monday's 109-93 win at New York.
Kevin Garnett had 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists and point guard Rajon Rondo returned after missing two games with an injured back, but it was center Kendrick Perkins who led the Celtics with a career-high 24 points while shooting 9-for-12 from the field. Perkins made his first six shots and had 22 points in the first half.
"I started thinking I was Kevin," Perkins told the Celtics' official Web site. "Instead of going down and setting picks I was starting to post up a little bit. It's like that sometimes when you have it going. I think their game plan was to make me make shots."
Toronto has struggled to make shots against the Celtics this season, shooting just 39.3 percent from the field in three losses. Boston's opponents are shooting a league-low 41.6 percent this season, and the Celtics have not allowed 100 points in any of their last 22 games.
The Raptors last failed to beat Boston in a season when they lost all three meetings in 1997-98.
Toronto is coming off a 99-95 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday, when a fourth-quarter comeback attempt came up short. It was the Raptors' second straight road loss, although they've won five of seven overall.
They outscored the 76ers 39-23 in the final quarter, but couldn't overcome a dismal third-quarter performance.
"It was just way too big of a deficit," said forward Chris Bosh, who had 25 points and nine rebounds. "Being the team we are, we're going to try to force the issue and come back until the end, but you can't dig a hole that big and expect to climb out."
Rookie Jamario Moon had a season-high 17 points for the Raptors, while Juan Dixon had 18 off the bench - more than he'd scored in his previous eight games combined.
A short-handed Toronto team without Bosh and Andrea Bargnani team suffered its worst loss of the season in its previous visit to TD Banknorth Garden, falling 112-84 to Boston on Dec. 7.
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