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Revisiting last month’s humiliation: Mavs Preview

 

Celtics (43-11) @

Offensive Efficiency (110.7, 4th); Defense Efficiency (100.4, 1st)

Dallas (30-20)

Offensive Efficiency (109.0, 11th); Defense Efficiency (107.6, 16th)

The Celtics look to win on the second game of a back-to-back in Dallas tonight after Leon Powe and Eddie House propelled the C’s to a scrappy road win in New Orleans last night. The Celtics may be short both Allens for this game, as Ray Allen joined Tony on the thumb-related injury list when he hyper-extended his right thumb last night before halftime.

Dallas is missing Jason Terry (out for several weeks with a broken left hand), so both teams would be missing a key scorer if Ray can’t go. (Ray appears to be a game-time decision).

Boston won the first meeting, 124-120, on Jan. 25th, and I don’t think I can remember a more embarrassing, lazy performance from an allegedly good team than the one the Mavericks put forth in that game.

The C’s were up 74-47 at halftime, and it was all lay-ups, dunks and open threes. Kevin Garnett dominated his personal match-up with Dirk Nowitzki, holding Dirk to 4-of-17 shooting. Nowitzki spent the fourth quarter sulking and strolling around on defense.

The supposed excuse was that the Mavs were wrapping up a four-game Eastern Conference road swing, but it wasn’t a grueling trip; the Mavs had a day of rest between each game.

Since then, though, the Mavs have won six of seven, including wins at home against Golden State and Portland, and road wins at Miami and Orlando (albeit a Magic team missing Jameer Nelson).

The Garnett-Dirk match-up is, of course, the one to watch, but the more interesting subplot is how the Mavs handle Paul Pierce on defense — especially if Ray Allen is out of the lineup. As fans, we can only hope he and Josh Howard spend a lot of time guarding each other.

There’s also Rondo-Kidd, two pass-first point guards who may not crack double-digits in points, and Perk-Dampier in a battle between physical centers who rarely assert themselves on offense.

The Mavs, of course, are a jump-shooting team. They take the third-most two-point jumpers (as a percentage of total shot attempts) in the league, and just 23 percent of their shots come from in close–the third-lowest figure in the league, according to 82games. The C’s better be on point with their close-outs and rotations.

One other thing to watch: the Mavs are 27th in the league at forcing turnovers, and the C’s are 27th worst at turning the ball over. Perhaps Boston can manage to take care of the ball in this one.

At full strength, I expect a win here. Without both Allens, it’s a toss-up. The C’s will need Pierce and KG to stay out of foul trouble, and they’ll be counting on big minutes from Big Baby, Powe and House. We review last year’s season series, after the jump.

The C’s swept the series last year, and both wins were memorable. They took the first at home, 96-90, without KG (ab strain). Rondo made the key play of the game when he stripped Nowitzki underneath the Dallas basket with about a minute to go (Dirk had just rebounded a Pierce miss) and laid the ball back up and in to give the C’s a 92-90 lead. Dirk went off for 31 without KG’s long arms in his face.

The C’s took the second game in Dallas, 94-90, to complete the first sweep of the Texas Triangle since the Kings did it in November 2001. (Man, that Kings team was so good. It’s too bad the refs cost them a championship). Ray Allen, fresh off an ankle injury, hit the go-ahead three with 31 seconds left.

Other fun facts from this game: The C’s were the first team to go 6-0 against the Spurs, Mavs and Rockets since that forgotten juggernaut, the 1999-2000 Milwaukee Bucks. Rondo and Kidd combined for two points in the game. Rondo put up perhaps the worst line of his career: zero points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and five turnovers.

Can you imagine him having a game like that today? Neither can I.

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