Celtics-Hornets preview: Winning on the road

Celtics-Hornets preview: Winning on the road
March 20, 2013, 10:00 am
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NEW ORLEANS — Even with the Celtics' heartbreaking loss to Miami on Monday, they have established themselves as a formidable foe at home.

But with an I-95-like traffic jam of competitive teams in the Eastern Conference, there's a good chance that the Celtics will have to win at least one game on the road to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.

And so as the season winds down and Boston looks to pad its overall win total, finding success away from the TD Garden becomes essential. It takes on even greater significance against teams like the Hornets that have no playoff aspirations to speak of.

Boston has nine road games remaining this season, six of which are against teams that are currently out of the playoff picture.

Taking advantage of those opportunities is crucial to the C's moving up from their current playoff position (tied for sixth with Chicago, but seventh because the Bulls currently own the tie-breaker).

"We just have to win games, man," said Celtics guard Jason Terry. "At this point in the season, it really doesn't matter where or who the opponent is. We just have to find ways to win."

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Paul Pierce has had his struggles of late when facing the Hornets, especially when shooting from beyond the arc. In his last four games against New Orleans, Pierce has missed 18 of his 20 three-point attempts.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Anthony Davis. Bass' improved play defensively and on the boards has been a vital part of Boston's success of late. But he will have his hands full tonight against the No. 1 pick in last June's draft, who has shown the promise of being a better-than-average NBA big man.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett is with the Celtics, but that by no means he will be seeing any action tonight. He has missed the last two games with a left adductor strain injury and is listed as day-to-day. With 6-foot-10 Anthony Davis and 7-foot Robin Lopez in the frontcourt, the C's could use as much size as possible to combat the Hornets' twin towers.

STAT TO TRACK: Scoring is always at a premium, but it really has been an issue for the Celtics against New Orleans in recent years. Boston has lost four of its last five games to the Hornets, failing to score 90 or more points in all five games.