Because of the trade that sent stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in 2013, the Boston Celtics stand to benefit from every Nets loss this season.
Boston hosts Brooklyn to open a home-and-home series with some added incentive Saturday.
The Celtics own the Nets' first-round draft pick in 2016 because of the blockbuster deal and looks like it might reap a big reward come lottery time, with Brooklyn owning the league's third-worst record at 9-23. The pick from the Nets is not lottery-protected.
The Nets have lost eight of 10 after falling 100-93 at Orlando on Wednesday. Brook Lopez had 24 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, but Brooklyn was outscored 32-20 in the final period.
"We just couldn't get a good shot in the fourth quarter," coach Lionel Hollins said. "Their defense was pretty good and it got away from us. ... Executing under pressure is important, and I don't think we handled the pressure well."
The Celtics (18-14) had their four-game win streak snapped with a 112-104 loss to the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. They cut an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to two, but Kobe Bryant hit a key 3-pointer with 1:40 to go.
"It was just a mental letdown from top to bottom, for all of us, and it hurt us," forward Jae Crowder said. "We tried to fight back and claw back and made it a game late in the fourth, but it was too late."
The Celtics split a home-and-home set with the Nets on Nov. 20 and 22, opening it with a 120-95 win at TD Garden in which they posted their best shooting performance in two seasons at 58.6. Avery Bradley scored 21 points off the bench while knocking down 10 of his 13 attempts, and Crowder had 19 points.
The Nets then snapped their three-game skid against Boston with a 111-101 home victory. Lopez and Jarrett Jack combined for 45 points to help overcome 27 apiece from Isaiah Thomas and Bradley.
Thomas had 24 points Wednesday while Evan Turner added 20 off the bench. Turner has averaged 17.3 points - nearly eight above his season average - and shot 56.8 percent in his last three games.
Thomas has scored 22.0 points per game in his past three against the Nets. Bradley has averaged 21.4 and shot 55.3 percent from the field while going 24 of 47 from 3-point range in his past eight meetings.
Lopez has shot 56.3 percent in his last three games against Boston. The Nets have lost in three of their last four visits to TD Garden.
The teams meet for the final time this season Monday night in Brooklyn.