Celtics-Warriors Preview

The Boston Celtics have been the NBA’s best road team this

season, but their string of nine straight victories away from home

was snapped upon their arrival on the West Coast.

They’ll try to bounce back less than 24 hours later on Monday

night against the Golden State Warriors, the only NBA team the

Celtics haven’t beaten on the road since their 2007 roster

overhaul.

Boston (23-6) won 13 of its first 14 on the road, including an

impressive 86-77 victory on Christmas Day at Orlando that was the

team’s ninth straight win outside of New England.

A 10th in a row seemed within the Celtics’ grasp against the Los

Angeles Clippers on Sunday night, but they coughed up a three-point

lead in the final 10 seconds.

Clippers reserve Rasual Butler hit a game-tying 3-pointer with

8.5 seconds left, and after Boston’s Rajon Rondo missed two free

throws that would have given his team the lead, Baron Davis won it

92-90 for Los Angeles with a buzzer-beating jumper.

“The free throws didn’t bother me, honestly,” Celtics coach Doc

Rivers said. “I would love for Rondo to make the free throws, but I

thought, for a veteran team, we played with absolutely zero

composure.”

The Celtics certainly seemed to miss star forward Paul Pierce,

who was out for a second straight game with knee problems and is

not expected to return during this trip. He would typically have

been Boston’s top option during the closing seconds.

Rasheed Wallace also had a difficult game for the Celtics, going

4 of 16 from the field – matching a season high in shots attempted

– and missing all six of his 3-point attempts.

Boston will likely have to do better offensively if it hopes to

keep pace with the Warriors in a game that represents a stark clash

of styles. The Celtics allow an NBA-low 91.5 points per game, while

the up-tempo Warriors give up more points (112.3) than any other

team and rank second in scoring (107.2).

That contrast hasn’t added up to a Celtics win in northern

California lately. They lost 99-89 at Golden State on Dec. 26, 2008

– their fifth straight loss in Oakland – even though the Warriors

were playing without Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette.

Boston also lost 119-117 at Golden State on Feb. 20, 2008, in

the team’s initial visit following the acquisitions of Kevin

Garnett and Ray Allen. The Celtics have won in every other NBA

venue since Garnett, Allen and Pierce came together.

Golden State (8-21) will try to keep that distinction after

snapping a seven-game losing streak with a 132-127 win over Phoenix

on Saturday night, shooting 57.1 percent from the field and getting

33 points each from Ellis and Maggette.

Ellis also added 10 assists, playing at least 45 minutes for the

eighth time in the last 11 games for the banged-up Warriors, who

remain without Andris Biedrins and Raja Bell, among others.

Ellis is averaging 27.5 points in that stretch, but Saturday’s

victory was just the Warriors’ second in those games. He finally

got help from Maggette’s season-high point total and four other

players who scored at least 13 points.

“We’ve been playing good basketball but we haven’t had good

performances from everybody,” said Golden State coach Don Nelson, a

five-time NBA champion as a player with the Celtics. “Monta is

always carrying us … but it all worked out and we got a

contribution from everybody.”

Boston held Ellis to 18 points in a 109-95 home win over the

Warriors on Nov. 18.