Celtics-Clippers Preview

The Boston Celtics haven’t won a road game against a Western Conference foe since Doc Rivers was coaching them two seasons ago.

The Celtics figure to be hard-pressed to end a 23-game road slide versus West opponents Monday when they visit Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers.

Boston (13-25) faces a major challenge as it starts a six-game trip against the other conference. It hasn’t beaten a Western club on the road since Rivers guided the Celtics to a 110-107 overtime win over Utah on Feb. 25, 2013.

Rivers left the following season for Los Angeles (27-14) and beat Boston in both meetings last season. There isn’t anyone left from the Celtics club he led to the 2007-08 title now that Rajon Rondo was traded to Dallas on Dec. 18.

The trade means Chris Paul faces a far different point guard matchup against Evan Turner, who has averaged 6.2 assists while starting the last 10 games at that position for the Celtics.

Paul is fourth in the NBA in assists with 9.7 per game and first in assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.68.

His passing ability is also evidenced by the fact that he leads the NBA with an average of 3.0 secondary assists – 1.0 more than anyone else. A secondary assist is a pass made to a player who earns an assist. The assister must have the ball for less than four seconds with one dribble or none.

Paul is the linchpin to an offense that averages 106.9 points and can be considered one of the NBA’s most efficient – especially when he gets the ball to Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford.

Among players with at least 90 drives, the Griffin ranks first with 1.06 points per drive with Crawford second at 1.03.

Griffin and Crawford each totaled 47 points in last season’s wins over Boston. The Clippers held Jared Sullinger to a total of 12 points on 6-of-19 shooting.

Crawford leads the NBA among reserves with 15.7 points per game while the Celtics have the league’s second-best scorer off the bench at center in Kelly Olynyk, who averages 11.3 points.

Los Angeles won 117-108 at Sacramento on Saturday behind Griffin’s 30 points and Matt Barnes’ first double-double.

”I saw we were struggling there in the first half so I had to pick it up for my team,” said Barnes, who had 26 points and 10 boards.

Boston fell to 4-11 since the Rondo deal with Friday’s 119-103 loss to Chicago. The Celtics allowed the Bulls to score 64 second-half points as they continue to struggle on defense, allowing 104.2 points per game for the East’s worst mark.

"It’s just that we give up a couple easy buckets and then they may make tough ones after that because they’re comfortable after the previous ones," center Tyler Zeller said. "So we’ve just got to do a better job of challenging every shot and making every shot as difficult as possible."

Sullinger scored 20 points and Brandon Bass added 16.

The Clippers are trying to avoid losing three straight regular-season home games for the first time since Feb. 28-March 12, 2012.