Game Preview: Bobcats at Celtics

Make your picks now in Celtics 3-Point Play

BOSTON – Wednesday night was Milestone Night at TD Garden. Saturday night may wind up being described as Redemption Night on Causeway Street.

The Boston Celtics (35-29) will host the Charlotte Bobcats (14-51) at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Boston. It will be a rare Saturday night home game for the C’s, and the contest will provide them with an opportunity to redeem themselves for an embarrassing loss to the Bobcats four nights ago.

Boston stumbled its way through an ugly performance Tuesday night in Charlotte while Paul Pierce was given the night off. The Bobcats clobbered the C’s by 26 points in a game that featured a career-best performance from Gerald Henderson. Henderson scored a game-high 35 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field.

All of those numbers indicate that Boston just wasn’t itself during that game. It truly seemed as if the Celtics were lulled to sleep by Charlotte’s nonexistent crowd. Although the official box score lists the attendance number as 15,006, the eye test said the true number of fans in the building was probably half of that, at best.

The ambiance of that contest became even worse for the Celtics as they progressed through the game. They trailed by just three at halftime, but everything unraveled in the second half.

Boston failed to show any semblance of its usual self over the final 24 minutes of the game. The team totaled just 28 second-half points while shooting a paltry 27.6 percent from the field. Their final numbers for the game weren’t much better, as they finished with just 74 points and a field goal percentage of 40.9 percent.

With that performance fresh in their minds, the Celtics are eager to take the court tonight. They want to make up for their mishap, and in a big way.

Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce, who did not play in the last meeting between these two teams, should receive plenty of attention from Charlotte's defense tonight.
Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

“We’re very focused,” said Jason Terry at Friday’s practice. “That was a game that we know we should have won going in there even without Paul.

“If you’re going to be a champion, you have to beat teams like Charlotte very bad.”

The opposite of that took place on Tuesday. Now the Celtics are looking to reverse the story in their house.

“Now Paul’s back and we’re at home,” Terry also said. “As you know, we’ve been playing very well here at home and we want to protect our home court.”

Break Their Confidence

Charlotte may only have 14 wins, but it will come into TD Garden with plenty of confidence. Doc Rivers made that fact perfectly clear on Friday.

“No matter what you say to them, they’ve beaten us twice,” Rivers said. “And so they’re going to have great confidence against us. When you beat a team, [the winner doesn’t] care about the excuses. They know they beat you, and that makes them a better team the next time they play you.”

The Celtics witnessed that on Tuesday, which was the first game these teams had played against each other since Charlotte beat Boston on Feb. 11. Rivers’ team failed to break the Bobcats’ confidence in those last two meetings. Let’s hope that isn’t the case again tonight.

The Pierce Factor

If you haven’t heard the news, Pierce didn’t play against the Bobcats on Tuesday. His presence tonight will surely change the tenor of this matchup.

Pierce is Boston’s best playmaker and is, in essence, the team’s de facto point guard. He has handled the role of facilitator since Rajon Rondo went down and he has done a great job in that role.

The Celtics truly missed Pierce’s presence Tuesday night. They didn’t move the ball well, they didn’t shoot the ball well, and they didn’t look inspired. All of that should change with Pierce on the court tonight.

They’re Down – Keep Them Down

Charlotte just lost to another team by double-digits and it is about to take on Boston. This has been the going trend between these two teams this season. It has happened the past two times these teams met. Charlotte lost to Philadelphia by 11 points on Feb. 9 and then beat Boston 94-91 on Feb. 11. The Bobcats lost to the Wizards by 17 on March 9 and then beat the Celtics 100-74 on March 12.

The table is set for this trend to continue tonight thanks to the Raptors’ 92-78 thrashing of the Bobcats last night. The Bobcats are down yet again. It’s up to Boston to keep them there.