UPDATE: Kendrick Perkins will make his first start of the year in place of Shaquille O’Neal who is out with a sore heel. In addition, Ray Allen confirmed before the game he will participate in the All-Star Weekend three-point shootout.
Dallas at Boston
8:00 P.M. ET
Boston: 105.8 points/100 possessions (11th)
Dallas: 106.2 points/100 possessions (10th)
Boston: 97.7 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Dallas: 102.2 points allowed/100 possessions (9th)
Probable Dallas starters: Jason Kidd (PG), DeShawn Stevenson (SG), Brian Cardinal (SF, kindof), Dirk Werner Nowitzki (PF), Tyson Cleotis Chandler (C)
Injuries: Peja Stojakovic – OUT
View From The Opposing Bench: The Two Man Game
Should be a good one tonight, guys. The Celtics suit up for a revenge game tonight against Mark Cuban’s finest possession. Except Broadcast.com, of course. I’ve got Broadcast.com open in another browser window right now. Don’t remember the last day I didn’t check out Broadcast.com. But the Mavericks are pretty sweet too.
If you look at their respective stats, the Mavs are sort of the Western conceptual doppelgangers of your C’s. They play slow, they defend similar areas, they hit jumpers, and they are dismissive of offensive boards. Pass-first point guards, PFs who shoot long jumpers, defensively-oriented centers, pure shooting guards, and small forwards with versatile (although completely different) scoring abilities.
The Mavs are on a six game tear now that Nowitzki’s back and healthy, but the C’s just went 3-1 on a West Coast road trip and got a extra day to hang out in Sacramento. They should be totally fresh to pick things back up at home.
Let’s get to the preview, if you can tear yourself away from Broadcast.com for five seconds.
WHAT THE MAVERICKS DO WELL
What the Celtics do well, pretty much.
Dissuade the opposition from the rim. Teams only shoot 20 shots at the rim per game against the Mavs, 2nd least in the league to, duh, Orlando. For more on this, see Make Me Worry, Players That.
Hit the long two. Thanks pretty much to Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs are tops in the league from this range, well over the league average at 45 percent. The C’s are 4th. This is one area of strength for the Mavs that could be potentially injurious for the green team, because the Celtics, as you know, like to force teams into low-percentage shooting zones.
WHAT THE MAVERICKS DO POORLY
What the Celtics do poorly, more or less.
Offensive rebound. Let’s not go crazy here. Nobody’s anywhere near as bad as the Celtics at this. But the Mavericks are as close as anyone. They’ve started sending their bigs back on D like the C’s do, and Dirk has historically not expressed much interest in this facet of the game anyway.
Get to the stripe. Because they don’t really attempt any shots at the rim (their biggest conceptual separation point from Boston), they have the sixth-lowest FTR in the league. Boston is tenth-lowest. For both teams, this shortcoming is related to the fact that their power forwards like to shoot 20-footers rather than bang underneath. Shame, because the Mavs have some decent free throwers, including Tyson Chandler as of recently somehow.
PLAYERS THAT MAKE ME WORRY
Tyson Chandler. I took some doody in various circles earlier this season for touting Chandler as a potential All-Star. While he isn’t actually that, because the West is too loaded and his efficiency has tailed off and the Mavs aren’t so hot anymore, he’s a major factor in this game. He keeps guys away from the rim, and the Celtics go to the rim with greater frequency than any other team. He’s also another superstar among player bloggers. He makes me feel like NBA players and normal guys like me are not so different, after all.
Dirk Nowitzki. Speaking of All-Stars, lost in the (wrongheaded) anointing of Derrick Rose as league MVP at this point is the fact that, before his injury, Nowitzki might have been having his best season yet. On December 22nd, he was scoring more and shooting better than he did in his MVP season, and his defense is a scoche better than it was back then. We as fans need to be more conscious of Dirk as an all-time scorer and absolute Hall of Famer. He’s easily worthy on Points Scored and Children’s Hearts Destroyed alone.
By the way, LeBron is the MVP if the season ends today. I don’t like it any more than you do, but the truth is too important.
PLAYERS THAT DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
Brendan Haywood. I like Brendan Haywood the guy, but Brendan Haywood the basketball player has been nothing short of horrible. He’s rebounding worse than he has in three years. He’s getting more of his shots blocked than ever in history. He’s shooting 35% from the line, and he gets there as much as anyone on his team. His post defense is inferior to Chandler’s and his pick-and-roll defense is inferior to everyone’s. He’s barely managing four points per game. His PER is four entire points lower than it was in 2007, his worst PER season prior to this terrible one. And he’s got a True Shooting Percentage of 51, which is pretty much unacceptable because his shooting range is nonexistent.
His vocal range, however:
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE
Dirk pull up for a go ahead jumper with 20 seconds to play, but this time he bricks it. Seriously, the Celtics win the last game if one shot falls differently, so let’s hope the presence of Kendrick Perkins forces that difference tonight.
C’s 98, Mavs 92.