The Boston Celtics (23-55, 15-24 home) host the Charlotte Bobcats (40-38, 17-22 away) on Friday evening at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:
MOTIVATED CATS: The Bobcats are playoff-bound, but they've got plenty of motivation to play hard to the regular-season finish line. Charlotte and Washington currently own matching 40-38 records, but with help from an overtime triumph on Wednesday, the Bobcats own the head-to-head tiebreaker. Avoiding a bottom seed ensures not seeing the likes of Miami or Indiana in the first round, while landing the sixth seed would produce a first-round matchup with the Atlantic Division-winning Toronto Raptors if the season ended today. Then again, if the red-hot Bulls surge to the third seed, Charlotte might rather see slumping Indiana.
SCOREBOARD WATCHING: With their ninth straight loss on Wednesday in Atlanta, the Celtics moved into a tie with Orlando for the third worst record in basketball. Boston players and coaches still want to finish the season strong -- even at the expense of possible ping-pong balls -- but Celtics fans will be keeping an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard as the Magic host the Wizards on Friday night. Orlando has won two straight to add some intrigue to the lottery standings. Other tanktastic tilts to keep an eye on: Utah (a game in front of Boston) hosts Portland, while the Los Angeles Lakers (two games in front of Boston) welcome Golden State.
LOOSE BALLS: This is the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams, who split the first two meetings in November with each team winning on the other's home turf. ... STATS LLC puts the two teams' current streaks in perspective: The Bobcats are trying to win six straight for the first time since March 5-14, 2010, while Boston is trying to avoid losing 10 straight for the first time since dropping a team-record 18 in a row during the 2006-07 campaign. ... Old friend Al Jefferson got his first win as a visitor during Charlotte's last trek to Boston.