Boston: 103.1 points/100 possessions (10th)
Dallas: 98.2 points/100 possessions (19th)
Boston: 101.0 points/100 possessions (21st)
Dallas: 99.6 points/100 possessions (15th)
Key Injuries: Boston: Marquis Daniels is possible (migraine). Dallas: Jason Kidd (back) is out.
Probable Dallas Starters: Delonte West (PG), Vince Carter (SG), Shawn Marion (SF), Dirk Nowitzki (PF), Brendan Haywood (C)
View From The Opposing Bench: The Two Man Game
Boston and Dallas are a combined zero games over .500 so far this season and tonight’s garden party is less buzzy than the late game between Miami and the Clippers out in L.A. But for a Boston team that’s feasted on the weak sisters of the league and fallen to the, uh, strong sisters, taking down Dallas would be a good start towards rebuilding its championship caché.
Last Time On Celtics Vs. Mavericks:
Even though both games came during Boston’s best stretch last season, the C’s dropped two games to Dallas and allowed Nowitzki to shoot 60% from the field. In hindsight, that was a good indication the Mavs were a real championship contender and not just another strong western conference team.
You may remember this game for its thrilling/disappointing end. But you may also notice that Dallas has three new starters tonight and another major piece – Lamar Odom – coming off the bench. Boston’s not the same team. But neither are the Mavs.
Both teams are struggling to find their identities.
Boston has spent the last four days fussing over what’s going wrong, a list that includes rebounding, physicality and bench production, all of which are on watch tonight.
Dallas is still trying to fit all its new pieces together and is having particular trouble scoring the ball, a task that gets no easier with Kidd out of the lineup.
Expect a superheated contest at the point tonight between Rondo and West, who will each probably spend the night hawking each other up and down the court. They’re two of the most competitive guys in the league, especially when matched up against each other, as they have been, off and on, since they were both young guys on those terrible C’s teams of the mid-00s.
Dallas is particularly poor on the offensive glass (a boon to the C’s, who have been struggling to clean up the boards) and weak in transition (both attacking and defending).
It’s a perfect situation for a rested Boston team to play solid half-court defense and then get out and run their way to a victory.
Dallas can hurt you by knocking down the corner threes. They burned Boston last year in this area. So, the C’s need to close out on shooters. But a lot of tonight’s defensive success will come from how the C’s check Nowitzki. If he gets going early and they’re forced to send a second guy at him all night, it’ll open things up for everyone else. Containing him with a single guy gives the C’s a major advantage because Dallas just isn’t shooting the ball well right now (42.6%, 23rd overall).
I’d also expect a bigger lineup tonight, with Greg Stiemsma and Jermaine O’Neal on Haywood which keeps Garnett on Dirk. That’s a better matchup for Boston than Brandon Bass, who’s going to struggle to contest Dirk’s shots.
Boston is rested and should be focused. That should be the difference.
Boston 88 Dallas 84