Feb. 22, 2011
BOSTON (40-14) vs.
Coverage begins at 7 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
OAKLAND (AP) -- The Boston Celtics have won an NBA title and more regular-season games than any other team since Kevin Garnett arrived in 2007-08.
There's one place they haven't enjoyed any success.
Oracle Arena is the only visiting venue where the Celtics have failed to win since Garnett's arrival, a six-game drought they'll try to end Tuesday night as they open a four-game road trip against the improving Golden State Warriors.
Boston (40-14) has won 218 games over the past 3 12 seasons, riding the league's top defense to two NBA finals appearances and the 2007-08 championship.
Golden State (26-29) has averaged the second-most points in that span, and while it's been held to 96.0 points per game in losing all three trips to TD Garden, the Celtics haven't done so well defensively in Oakland. The Warriors have averaged 107.0 points in three victories over Boston at Oracle Arena, stretching their home winning streak in the series to six with a 103-99 win on Dec. 28, 2009, behind 37 points from Monta Ellis.
Perhaps more impressively, Golden State has rallied from at least 12 down in each of the home wins with Garnett anchoring the Celtics' defense.
Ellis missed out on making the Western Conference All-Star squad, but with Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce in the East lineup, the Celtics were well-represented.
Pierce - who missed last season's game in his hometown of Oakland with a knee injury - turned in an All-Star performance in Boston's final game before the break. After scoring one point and missing all 10 field-goal attempts in a win over Miami on Feb. 13, Pierce bounced back Wednesday with 31 points in a 94-80 victory over New Jersey.
"He's back, because he's a great player and those guys just don't have a lot of back-to-back bad games," coach Doc Rivers said of Pierce. "He was terrific."
Tuesday's game will be the last the Celtics play prior to Thursday afternoon's trade deadline, and Boston could be in the market for a player that would fit seamlessly with a defense that allows a league-low 91.1 points per game. The Celtics and Rockets have reportedly discussed a deal that would land Shane Battier with the East's defending champion.
A much-improved defense has certainly given the Warriors a boost recently. After allowing an average of 107.0 points through 46 games, Golden State has surrendered 97.6 points over its last nine.
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It's an impressive 7-2 in that stretch, including three straight wins heading into the break. Ellis scored 35 points in Wednesday's 107-100 victory at Utah, the Warriors' sixth since Jan. 30 against an opponent with a winning record.
"This is a big step for us," coach Keith Smart said. "Knowing that this team was desperate, they had to try and get a win and our guys fought through it."
The Warriors improved to 15-2 when they hold their opponent to 100 points or fewer, but getting a big contribution from Ellis is still critical. Golden State is 16-5 when Ellis scores 27 or more.
Rondo will be at least partly in charge of slowing Ellis down, but the NBA assist leader has had some huge offensive games against the Warriors. Rondo has averaged 20.3 points versus Golden State since 2008-09, easily his most against any opponent.
Allen's 26.9 points per game in Oakland since 2004-05 are his most in any road venue.