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Monday, March 14, 2011
Game 65: Celtics vs. Nets

By Greg Payne

(47-17, 19-11 away)     -- vs. --     (21-43, 17-16 home)
at Prudential Center, 7 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)

PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
A record-setting defensive effort gave the Boston Celtics back some momentum. They've had plenty of it against the New Jersey Nets in recent years.

The visiting Celtics attempt to stay alone atop the Eastern Conference by sweeping the season series from the Nets, who are expected to have Deron Williams back on the floor Monday night.

Boston (47-17), which has already clinched a playoff berth, leads the East by one-half game over second-place Chicago. The Celtics reclaimed sole possession of the conference lead Sunday by avoiding a three-game losing streak. They routed Milwaukee 87-56, setting a franchise record for fewest points allowed in the shot-clock era by limiting the Bucks to 31.4 percent shooting.

"I think playing defense perfectly is our goal," said guard Ray Allen, who had 17 points Sunday after being held to a season-low five in an 89-86 loss at Philadelphia two nights prior. "That's what we shoot for, but a team can still score while you're doing that."

The Celtics have won 15 of 16 meetings with the Nets (21-43) dating to the 2006-07 season. They've taken all three matchups in 2010-11, holding New Jersey to a paltry 79.3 points per game.

Boston won the most recent contest 100-75 on Dec. 5 in Newark, limiting the Nets' starters to 28 points.

Sweeping the season series won't necessarily be a given with the return of Williams, who missed the last two games as his wife gave birth to their fourth child in Dallas.

Read the full preview HERE.