Since starting the season 7-5, the Charlotte Bobcats have lost 22 of their last 24 games. But with three former University of Connecticut players on their roster and the second overall pick in last year's draft, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, it's a team that doesn't lack story lines. For the Celtics, a loss to the struggling Bobcats could immediately nix the sudden momentum they have gained with five straight wins, including four over teams projected to qualify for the postseason. Paul Pierce said he feels like the Celtics could compete with any team right now. With the Bulls in town Friday, taking care of the Bobcats is Step 1.
BOSTON CELTICS (19-17)
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Paul Pierce
PF Brandon Bass
C Kevin Garnett
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (9-27)
PG Kemba Walker
SG Gerald Henderson
SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF Hakim Warrick
C Bismack Biyombo
Officials: Tom Washington, Bennie Adams, Scott Twardoski
TV/Radio: 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet / WEEI
• Chris Wilcox (right thumb) will dress for Monday's game, but is unlikely to play, coach Doc Rivers said. Wilcox could be ready for game action as soon as Wednesday, but Rivers said he'll continue to be patient.
• Hakim Warrick worked his way into the Bobcats starting lineup Dec. 26 against Miami and has been a strong inside presence since, collecting at least 10 points and seven rebounds in four of his seven starts. Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger should get the brunt of work against the 6-foot-9 Syracuse graduate. The Bobcats are sixth in the NBA with 6.4 blocks per game.
• Rajon Rondo joked before the game that he thought ESPN decided not to air his Sports Center commercial after he got suspended. Rondo said he shot the video almost six months ago. He was also asked about his assist numbers being down this season, though he responded with, "Someone has to make a shot to get an assist." Rondo still leads the NBA with 11.1 assists per game.
• While the Bobcats haven't been winning, Rivers and Pierce reiterated that it was important the Celtics jump out early and don't let them hang around. Charlotte is right above Boston in offensive production this season, with the two teams posting similar 3-point numbers and points per game.
• The Celtics hold a 21-7 all-time record against Charlotte, including an 11-3 mark at home. The Celtics won all three matchups last season.