As if it's not enough that the Boston Celtics have the best record in the National Basketball Association (56-14), they have reactivated forward Cedric Maxwell, who will be available for tonight's game against the Washington Bullets at Capital Centre (7:30, HTS).

As of yesterday, less than 3,000 tickets remained for the game, the defending NBA champions' last this season in Capital Centre.

Maxwell has missed 15 games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Before he got hurt, he started at small forward and Kevin McHale, arguably the best sixth man in the league, came off the bench. With Maxwell out, McHale has started, but Boston has not suffered any noticeable dropoff in production, winning six in a row and 11 of 13.

"My guess is they'll start McHale and bring Maxwell in off the bench," Bullets Coach Gene Shue said. "A lot depends on which player can make the most contribution coming off the bench. Before (Maxwell got hurt), McHale was coming off the bench, and it was working out great."

Reserve forward Scott Wedman also has flourished in Maxwell's absence. In the last six games, Wedman has averaged 15.3 points in little more than 20 minutes of playing time per game.

To make room for Maxwell, who officially was reactivated Thursday, the Celtics placed M.L. Carr (injured left ankle) on the five-game disabled list.

The Bullets are 1-3 against Boston this season, the only victory coming Nov. 10 at Capital Centre, 112-95.

Should Wedman continue playing well, Washington could counter with Darren Daye, a second-year player from UCLA who has impressed recently at small forward and at guard.

"Darren has been playing real well and his defense has been pretty good," Shue said. "Normally, Dudley (Bradley) would run in as the point guard for Gus (Williams), but Darren has been playing more because he's been shooting the ball very well. Also because of his size (6 feet 8), he can post up.

But Shue realized that it will take more than Daye to beat the Celtics. "The Celtics are a great, great team," he said. "We'll have to have a super game to beat them."