Saturday night’s 112-80 thrashing of the Orlando Magic allowed the Mavs to get back to their winning-streak ways following their big overtime win over the rising Utah Jazz on Thursday. With a record of 22-32 and a current position of just 2 games back of the 8th seed Denver Nuggets, Dallas will face another prime opponent when the always-improving Boston Celtics come to the American Airlines Center on Monday night.
The Mavs fell to the Celtics in Boston back in November when Dallas was in its prolonged early season stretch without Dirk Nowitzki. Not coincidentally, that was the abysmal part of the season that dug the Mavericks the hole that the including-Nowitzki team is having to play so well to dig out of now. Dallas should be at almost full strength Monday night after Deron Williams returned to action on Saturday night and played well in just 16 minutes of action. He is on a minutes restriction likely through the All Star break.
Besides from the injury situation for the Mavs, here are other key storylines for the game:
The Celtics are pretty good. So is this guy named Isaiah Thomas.
The 60th pick, the VERY LAST pick, of the 2011 NBA Draft was the 5’9″ Isaiah Thomas out of the University of Washington. He has defied the odds and in his sixth season is the second leading scorer in the entire league. The only person averaging more points per game than Thomas (29.8) is the incredible Russell Westbrook (31.2). All can agree there is no shame coming in second to Westbrook in anything this year considering the season he is having.
Thomas is putting up these monstrous numbers while the Celtics are thriving this season under coach Brad Stevens. They made a big splash last summer in signing former All Star Al Horford and also have a great chance at having the number one pick in the draft this summer thanks to the terrible trade the Nets made for Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Jason Terry a few seasons ago. Not a bad situation for a team that is 35-19 and second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Mavs are pretty good lately, too.
Adding their win on Saturday, this recent stretch has felt like an entirely different season than the one MFFL’s were treated to back in October, November and parts of December.
The offense that was ice cold in the early parts of the season has been great seemingly since Seth Curry was inserted into the starting lineup back when the Mavs traveled to Mexico City to face off with the Phoenix Suns. Including that game, Dallas is 11-5 in games since Curry was inserted into the starting lineup.
The younger Curry brother has averaged 15 points per game in 8 February contests and shot an impressive 50% from the field while seemingly being able to get to the basket at will. Curry scored just 6 points in the first Mavs/Celtics tilt this season.
The good times have been rolling for Dallas recently and these final few games before the All Star Break should be a big factor in how the front office will handle the trade deadline that is just one week from this Thursday. The Mavs will certainly have their hands full when Thomas, Horford and former Maverick Jae Crowder come to town Monday night.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 and the game can be seen on Fox Sports Southwest.