at TD Garden, 7:30 p.m. | CSN, WEEI (850 AM)
PAYNE'S THREE THINGS TO WATCH
Pierce's Shots: Paul Pierce has averaged only 10.8 field goal attempts per game in his last five games (his season average rests at 12.6), and after he took only 10 shots against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers stressed the need to get him the ball more often. The Celtics went away from Pierce in the waning minutes of Wednesday's loss, despite the fact that he hit two crucial shots with just over three minutes remaining to keep Boston in the game. He didn't shoot again, though, until just before the final buzzer, when what would have been a game-tying, desperation 3-point heave, drew iron. Will Pierce rifle off more shots against the Bobcats Friday?
About Those Early Deficits: Wednesday's loss to the Grizzlies marked the fourth consecutive game in which the Celtics have trailed by 10 points or more. They were successful in two of their comeback attempts against the New Orleans Hornets and New York Knicks, but the bad habit came back to bite them against Memphis. After practice on Thursday, Glen Davis had this to say on the issue: "We're letting guys get comfortable too much in the first quarter. We're fighting back in the second half. I think that's our problem." The Bobcats have lost four straight games (all by double-digits), which could make them the perfect bait as the Celtics look to kick the habit of starting games out poorly.
Limit Livingston: The Bobcats handed the Celtics a head-scratching loss on the second night of a back-to-back back in February thanks in large part to the play of Shaun Livingston off the bench. The 6-foot-7 backup point guard repeatedly used his size advantage over smaller guards like Nate Robinson and Rajon Rondo, and wound up converting seven of his 10 field goal attempts, finishing with 18 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Delonte West might be a better defender than Robinson, but he too will face a significant height disadvantage if matched up against Livingston. Depending on the lineups on the floor, the Celtics might want to counter Livingston with a taller wing defender.
GAME PREVIEW (via Stats Inc.)
Charlotte's Stephen Jackson is listed as day to day due to a left hamstring problem that was evident in a 111-88 home loss to Indiana on Wednesday.
Jackson was held to 11 points and didn't have a field goal after the first quarter due to the injury. An MRI on Thursday revealed no tear in the hamstring that has caused him to miss four games this month.
Charlotte forward Tyrus Thomas is also day to day with bruised ribs.
The Bobcats (28-42) have lost four straight and 10 of 12 to drop into a ninth-place tie in the East, three games behind the Pacers for the conference's final playoff spot.
"I'm not going to let them lay down and quit," coach Paul Silas said. "That's not going to happen."
Quitting was what Silas indicated Boris Diaw did Wednesday. Diaw, Charlotte's third-leading scorer, was yanked in the third quarter after passing up a shot in the lane for a behind-the-head pass that was intercepted and led to a basket on the other end.
Diaw never returned after playing 24 minutes without attempting a shot.
"I just told him in all my 40 years in the NBA, I've never seen anyone do that -- not take one shot in 24 minutes," Silas said. "That's something that I've never, ever seen."
Read the full preview HERE.