BOSTON -- Boston coach Doc Rivers wasn't hiding it. He hopes his team shows up ready Sunday to play a key game.
Rajon Rondo had 20 points and 14 assists to lead the Celtics to a 104-88 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night, setting up a showdown with Miami for the Eastern Conference's second spot.
"We control our own destiny for the second seed now," Rivers said. "We've got to win our next two games."
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But when he was asked if he was concerned with how his team would play, he didn't hesitate.
"Yes," he said. "If we had taken care of business this would have been decided. When we play well, we can beat anybody. When we play poorly, we can get beat by anybody. We'll see. Logically, yes, but hopefully."
Paul Pierce (22 points and 12 rebounds) and Kevin Garnett (15 and 11) also had double-doubles for Boston, which remains tied with Miami after the Heat, who host the Celtics on Sunday, beat Charlotte 112-103.
Ray Allen had 13 points, but was just 1 for 6 from 3-point range.
The Celtics never trailed and had a fairly easy time as both teams hardly dug-in defensively for most of the first three quarters.
"We're trying to push for the second seed. It's a good win," Pierce said. "We've kind of struggled in the second end of back-to-backs."
Boston was coming off a 97-81 loss at Chicago on Thursday.
Rondo had as many assists as the Wizards.
"One thing they don't do is give you many fastbreak points," Washington coach Flip Saunders said of Boston's defense. "They're one of the worst teams at offensive rebounding because when the ball goes up, they send people back. They'd rather give you the defensive rebound and not give up the open floor opportunities."
Boston, which shot 59 percent and led by three at the half, scored the first seven points of the third quarter to open a double-digit lead, 66-56, on Garnett's three-point play.
Most of the lead was due to Rondo controlling the tempo.
"He does a great job of getting into the paint and holding onto the ball," Wall said. "He's got trust in his teammates."
"When he pushes the ball, that makes us better," he said.
Garnett, trailing on a fastbreak, was grabbed as he went up for a shot. The ball fell through as he was falling to the floor, and Garnett then pounded his chest while lying on the floor, bringing loud cheers from a relatively listless crowd. The Celtics pushed it to 79-67 on Rondo's spinning drive in the lane, but Washington scored the next seven points.
The Celtics led 83-75 after three quarters.
Washington did close it to 87-83 on Crawford's break-away dunk with a little over seven minutes to play, but Rondo, Allen and Pierce followed with baskets to push Boston up by 10 with 3 ½ minutes left.
Boston then tightened up defensively and the Wizards never threatened the rest of the way.
Boston started the game quickly, opening a 12-point lead midway into the opening quarter before the Wizards closed it to 28-23 after one.
The Celtics had opened a nine-point edge on Pierce's free throw early in the second, but the Wizards whittled it to 59-56 at halftime.
|Rajon Rondo records 20 points and 14 assists against the Wizards to lead the Celtics to an important late-season win. (Getty Images)|
|Boston (55-24) «||28||31||24||21||104|
|WAS:A. Blatche 20 Pts
WAS:A. Blatche 10 Reb
WAS:J. Wall 7 Ast
|BOS:P. Pierce 22 Pts
BOS:P. Pierce 12 Reb
BOS:R. Rondo 14 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|A. Blatche, C||42||7-14||6-8||10||1||2||20|
|J. Wall, PG||41||7-18||5-6||2||7||4||20|
|J. Crawford, SG||40||8-18||3-3||1||3||4||19|
|J. McGee, C||31||7-10||1-7||10||0||3||15|
|M. Evans, SF||22||1-5||2-2||1||2||4||4|
|L. Owens, SF||26||1-4||0-0||6||0||2||2|
|O. Jeffers, SG||14||1-1||0-0||3||1||2||2|
|Y. Jianlian, PF||12||2-6||0-0||2||0||3||4|
|K. Seraphin, PF||12||1-1||0-0||3||0||1||2|
|R. Lewis, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Howard, SF||Did Not Play|
|N. Young, SG||Did Not Play|
|M. Shakur, PG||Did Not Play|
|T. Booker, PF||Did Not Play|
|H. Ndiaye, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|R. Rondo, PG||42||7-12||6-6||3||14||0||20|
|P. Pierce, SF||40||5-14||12-13||12||3||0||22|
|R. Allen, SG||37||5-10||2-3||2||3||2||13|
|K. Garnett, PF||33||6-8||3-3||11||3||3||15|
|N. Krstic, C||27||6-9||5-6||6||0||5||17|
|G. Davis, PF||21||3-7||2-2||0||1||2||8|
|J. Green, PF||16||1-4||1-2||2||0||1||3|
|T. Murphy, PF||15||2-5||0-0||2||0||1||4|
|D. West, SG||6||1-2||0-0||0||1||3||2|
|C. Arroyo, PG||3||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|J. O'Neal, C||Did Not Play|
|S. O'Neal, C||Did Not Play|
|S. Pavlovic, SG||Did Not Play|
|V. Wafer, SG||Did Not Play|
|A. Bradley, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|