After a season-opening three-game losing streak, the Boston Celtics feel a whole lot better about things after two straight wins.
Another matchup with the winless Washington Wizards should buoy their spirits even more.
The Celtics look to even their record with a second victory over the Wizards in as many days Monday night at TD Garden.
Poor defensive efforts left the four-time Atlantic Division-champion Celtics with a surprising 0-3 record after road losses to New York, Miami and New Orleans. Boston tightened up considerably in its home opener to beat Detroit 96-85 on Friday, and rode Rajon Rondo's 14th career triple-double to a 94-86 win at Washington on Sunday.
"I just knew he played great. He was sensational all night. He had one of those nights - he had this last year in stretches - where he just called a good game, you know, like he's a great catcher," coach Doc Rivers said.
Kevin Garnett scored a season-high 24 points in 28 minutes and Rondo had 18 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds for the Celtics (2-3), who have allowed 85.5 points in their wins after yielding an average of 106.0 in the three losses.
"It's just two games. We had some tough losses the first few games, but it's about building and I think that's what we're doing right now," Rondo said.
While the level of competition has certainly played a role, Boston has won both of its games with Paul Pierce in the lineup after the team's leading scorer last season sat out the first three games with a bruised right heel. Pierce has totaled 21 points on 6-of-17 shooting in two contests, but his presence alone opens opportunities for teammates.
After playing four of their first five games on the road, the Celtics now have eight of 10 at home. Boston has won 34 of 42 regular-season games on its own court.
Rondo especially won't mind facing the Wizards for a second consecutive day. He has averaged 16.6 points and 11.5 assists in the last eight meetings.
The Wizards (0-4) will try to avoid their first 0-5 start since 2008-09, but will have to win in Boston for only the second time in seven games to do that. Washington - the league's only winless team - has lost its last two visits to TD Garden by a combined 47 points.
A weak offense continues to be a major problem for the Wizards, who are averaging a league-worst 83.5 points on 39.1 percent shooting.
Washington did have four players in double figures Sunday, but shot 28.2 percent in the first half and faced a 17-point deficit at the break. The Wizards missed all nine of their 3-point attempts in the opening half and finished 2 of 16.
"We're getting good shots. We missed nine shots inside of 4 feet," Wizards coach Flip Saunders said.
John Wall had his best all-around game of the season with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, eight assists and seven rebounds. Wall, who was 10 for 37 from the field in this season's first three games, has averaged 19.8 points in four career contests against the Celtics.