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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, March 21st (All times Eastern)

Boston Celtics (23-46) at Brooklyn Nets (35-31), 7:30 p.m.

( - The Brooklyn Nets have narrowed the gap to 2 1/2 games in the Atlantic Division and they face another critical test Friday night when they host the rival Boston Celtics at Barclays Center.

The Nets have won two straight, five of their last six and nine of the last 11. Brooklyn is fifth in the Eastern Conference, just a half-game ahead of the Washington Wizards and two behind the Chicago Bulls.

The Nets started their homestand 2-0 thanks to wins over the Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Bobcats.

The most recent victory came Wednesday night over the Bobcats as the Nets prevailed, 104-99.

Deron Williams' 25 points and eight assists led the way in the Nets' 10th consecutive win at Barclays Center.

"That's the Deron I'm used to seeing," said Nets center Andray Blatche.

Joe Johnson added 20 points and Shaun Livingston finished with 17. Brooklyn hasn't lost at home since a 120-95 shellacking by Oklahoma City on Jan. 31. Blatche (13), Mason Plumlee (11) and Marcus Thornton (11) rounded out the double-figure scorers.

It will always be meaningful for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to face their former team, a team they guided to an NBA title in 2008. Garnett has missed 10 straight with a back issue and won't play on Friday.

The Celtics snapped a five-game losing streak in style Wednesday night with a 101-96 home victory over the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat. Sure, LeBron James missed the game with back spasms, but a win is a win.

Rajon Rondo nearly recorded a triple-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists to lead the Celtics.

"It was a good win," said Rondo. "We needed a win, we needed to play better at home and we did."

Avery Bradley paced Boston with 23 points behind a career-high six 3- pointers, while Brandon Bass tallied 18 and Jared Sullinger added 14 off the bench to help the C's.

With the game tied at 92-92 and under two minutes remaining, Jeff Green buried a 3-pointer and Rondo hit a runner to give the Celtics a five-point lead. Dwyane Wade made a jumper, but Rondo answered with another bucket to seal the victory.

Green finished with 13 points and Kelly Olynyk chipped in 10 points in a reserve role.

The Nets have won two of three meetings with the Celtics this season, but they are only 3-9 in their last 12 as the host against their rivals from Boston.

03/21 10:22:56 ET