at Time Warner Cable Arena, 7 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)
PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Beware the trap game: The Celtics have struggled at times this season maintaining the right level of intensity against sub .500 teams on the road. With tonight's game against the 21-29 Bobcats sandwiched in between yesterday's showdown with the Orlando Magic and Thursday's rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers, will the Celtics have the right amount of focus to avoid another uninspiring loss like the ones they suffered earlier in the season to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards?
Ray closing in: After knocking down two 3-pointers against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, Ray Allen finds himself three triples away from tying (and four from surpassing) Reggie Miller's record for most career 3-pointers made. Allen has made three or more trifectas 22 times this season and has made at least four or more seven times. In 16 games against Charlotte in his career, Allen has shot 42.6 percent from three-point nation. Since he's been a member of the Celtics, Allen's shot 43.6 percent from distance against the Bobcats. In two games against Charlotte this season, Allen's made six of the 10 3-pointers he's attempted (60 percent).
Containing Jackson: The Bobcats are just 1-4 in their last five games overall, despite Stephen Jackson's increased scoring output. Jackson's led the Bobcats in scoring all season with an average of 18.9 points per game, but he's upped that figure to 23.8 points per game over his last five games -- a stretch that includes a 39-point outing against the Detroit Pistons on February 2. With Ray Allen so close to the three-point record, most of the attention being paid to him will come on the offensive end tonight, but he needs to be conscious of Jackson on the defensive end, in order to stop him from going off and giving the Bobcats a chance to steal a victory. The good news: In two games against the Celtics this season, Jackson's averaged a pedestrian 13 points per game on 37.9 percent shooting from the field.
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
Boston's Ray Allen has made a living off the 3-point shot since his professional career began 15 years ago. With just four more made 3-pointers, he'll be the NBA's all-time leader.
Allen looks to move to the top of the all-time list and help the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics defeat the Bobcats for a seventh straight time when the teams meet in Charlotte on Monday night. Allen made 2 of 4 3-point attempts in Sunday's 91-80 win over Orlando to move within three of the NBA record. Reggie Miller, who retired in 2005, holds the mark with 2,560.
"This is a moment that I've never experienced before," Allen said after Friday's 101-97 loss to Dallas. "I don't know how many people can experience this type of moment."
Allen has been one of the league's most-feared perimeter shooters for years, but this season he has been knocking down shots from beyond the arc at an incredible clip. Allen ranks fourth in the league in 3-point percentage at 45.7, which would be a new single-season personal best. His best 3-point shooting season came with Milwaukee in 2001-02, when he shot 43.4 percent.
Allen made his first career 3-pointer as a rookie for the Bucks in 1996, eight seasons before the Bobcats played their first game.
Charlotte has little luck against the Celtics (38-12), losing 18 of their 23 meetings. Allen has been a big reason why.
The sharpshooter is averaging 17.5 points and shooting 52.5 percent from 3-point range during Boston's six-game winning streak in the series. He was 4 of 6 from beyond the arc in a 99-94 win over the Bobcats on Jan. 14.
Two-time All-Star Rajon Rondo had 18 points and 13 assists in that game, and finished with a season-high 26 points Sunday.
The Celtics rallied to beat the Magic after a scary injury to backup guard Marquis Daniels with 11:01 left in the second quarter and Boston down by seven.
Daniels was taken off the court on a stretcher after a collision with Gilbert Arenas. Team physician Brian McKeon said Daniels bruised his spinal cord, and team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he would miss one to two months.
"It's crazy to say you have to wait for something to happen to get a boost," Rondo said. "That's how it is."
Boston didn't need any extra inspiration in its last game in Charlotte on Dec. 11. The Celtics cruised to a 93-62 victory, holding the Bobcats to 16 or fewer points in each quarter.
The Bobcats (21-29) were 31-10 on their home floor last season, but are just 12-13 in Charlotte this season and have dropped the first two games of a challenging three-game homestand.
Hoping to make a statement against some of the league's best teams, the Bobcats lost to Miami 109-97 on Friday, then fell to the Mavericks 101-92 the following night. Charlotte has lost four of five overall games to drop one game behind eighth-place Indiana in the East.
Following the loss to Dallas, coach Paul Silas seemed to be most upset with Stephen Jackson, who picked up his 12th technical of the season. Jackson, who averages a team-best 18.9 points, is four technical fouls away from earning a one-game suspension.
"He's been acting that way for quite some time now," Silas said. "That's up to him to evaluate himself."
Jackson had an awful shooting performance Saturday, missing 12 of 17 shots. He hasn't had much luck against the Celtics this season, scoring 13 in each game.
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