(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Charlotte Bobcats will try to hold on to the sixth seed Friday night when they visit TD Bank Garden to take on the Boston Celtics.
The Bobcats have won five in a row and tied the Washington Wizards for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte has secured its second playoff berth in franchise history and by virtue of a 3-1 head-to-head record this season, owns the tiebreaker over Washington.
The Bobcats coughed up a 20-point first half lead but turned up the defensive intensity in overtime and took down the Wizards, 94-88, in Washington on Wednesday night.
Al Jefferson finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds and Kemba Walker tallied 17 points and 12 assists for Charlotte, which has won five straight games for the first time since 2010.
"If you watch the games (against Washington), these games, all of them, could have gone either way," Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford said of the battles against the Wizards this year. "To me the teams are very evenly matched."
Gary Neal netted 16 points off the bench while Gerald Henderson and Josh McRoberts scored 13 and 12 points, respectively. McRoberts had missed the previous three games with a sprained ankle.
The Celtics will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign. Boston has dropped nine straight, including three in a row in Beantown.
The most recent Celtics setback came Wednesday night with a road loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Boston squandered a nine-point lead with under six minutes to play, losing 105-97.
"It's pretty much the same old story the last couple games," Rajon Rondo said of his team's struggles. "When teams make a comeback on us, they turn up the pressure and we seem to fold."
Avery Bradley returned from a three-game absence and paced Boston with 24 points, while Rondo registered 19 points and 12 assists for the Celtics, who have lost a team-record 13 straight road games, matching the mark set in the 1979 campaign.
Jared Sullinger registered a 15-ppint, 11-rebound double-double. Jeff Green chipped in 13 points and Chris Johnson added 10 for the second unit.
Boston allowed the Hawks to shoot over 52 percent and was obviously done in by a late-game meltdown. Atlanta went on a 10-0 run, then a 9-0 run to close the game. The Hawks outscored the Celtics, 35-20, over the final 12 minutes.
The teams have split two meetings this season with the road team prevailing each time. Charlotte has still lost eight of its last 10 as the visitor in this series.