Perhaps it was revenge for the spanking the Celtics gave the Nets on Christmas, or the Rajon Rondo-initiated fight here back in November.

More likely, though, was that the Nets’ 101-93 victory over Boston Wednesday night was the result of the Nets being simply better than the Celtics. There was no Rondo to beat the Nets on national television this time, and even after suffering that 17-point Christmas defeat in the teams’ last meeting, the Nets took three of four from a Celtics squad that remains an undesirable postseason opponent, albeit one Brooklyn is unlikely to face in the first round.

Whomever they face, the Nets — the likely No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference — will need their three stars — Deron Williams (29 points), Brook Lopez (21) and Joe Johnson (20) — to click come playoff time, and that is precisely what the trio did Wednesday, scoring 70 of their team’s 101 points. Brooklyn (46-32) leads the Bulls by 3.5 games for the fourth spot with four games left.

Johnson, who has battled quad and heel injuries of late, turned in his most efficient performance since returning from his ailments last Thursday. He went 8-for-15 from the floor and his three-point shooting was clinical (4-for-6). Twice in the third quarter, he connected from beyond the arc after the Celtics, who trailed by double figures much of the second half, had cut the deficit to eight.

“Once I get kind of loose, I don’t really feel it,” Johnson said of his left heel. “Then again, I’m leaning more to my right than my left. I felt great tonight.”

Said Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo: “He’s been playing a little bit more on the perimeter and relying on his jump shot. Today he went at it a little bit.”

Johnson’s backcourt partner, meanwhile, made some history. When Williams (12 assists) nailed a three-point shot in the second quarter, it was his 159th of the season, giving him the franchise’s single-season record. Kerry Kittles had held the mark with 158, which he set as a rookie in 1996-97.