The Boston Celtics' return to prominence has been well-documented after the team acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in the offseason. With their latest win, the Celtics' turnaround became historic.

After matching the record for the biggest single-season turnaround in NBA history, the league-best Celtics continue their march toward the playoffs Saturday as they visit the Charlotte Bobcats.

Boston (60-15) has 36 more wins than it did last season, when it went 24-58 and finished with the second-worst record in the league. The turnaround has tied that of the 1997-98 San Antonio Spurs, who won 56 games after drafting Tim Duncan with the No. 1 overall selection in 1997 - a pick they earned by going 20-62 in 1996-97.

While turning around a franchise that had just three winning seasons in the previous 14 years is gratifying, Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows his team's true success will be measured in postseason play.

"It's nice," Rivers said of the record, but "when we started the season it was not on our list of things we wanted to do."

At the top of that list is ending the team's 22-year championship drought.

"We're well past where I've been," Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who has spent all 10 of his NBA seasons with Boston, said after the team got its 60th victory Wednesday against Indiana, 92-77. "I've only won 49 games. Sixty is all good. (But) we have a bigger picture in mind."

The bigger picture doesn't include the Bobcats (29-47), who are on the brink of mathematical elimination thanks to their fourth losing record in as many seasons.

Charlotte, though, has won five of its last eight games, including a 105-100 victory at Toronto on Friday night.

"It was a huge win for us," said Bobcats guard Jason Richardson, who had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists. "We know that it's getting close to getting teams eliminated from the playoffs, but we still got team goals that we want to accomplish and we are going to play hard until the last game of the season."

Given the Celtics' turnaround and the Bobcats' continued mediocrity, it stands to reason that the season series between the clubs wouldn't be all that dramatic. Boston, though, needed a steal and a buzzer-beater from Allen to win the first meeting 96-95 on Nov. 24.

Charlotte defeated the Celtics 95-83 on Jan. 9, before Boston reclaimed the season series lead with a 108-100 victory on Feb. 29.

The Bobcats could have a better chance of earning a split against the Celtics if Rivers follows through on his promise to rest some of his top players to have them healthy and fresh for the postseason.

"I'm going to absolutely start playing some different guys for a while," Rivers said, adding that he'd be "cranking it back up" shortly before the playoffs.


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