The Dallas Mavericks (40-27) were handed a gift heading into last night’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder (48-18), and took full advantage of it. Missing Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins, and Thabo Sefolosha, the Thunder were no match for the well balanced Mavericks attack. Today, they will begin their long 8-game home stand as they take on the Boston Celtics(22-45).
The Game At Hand:
The Mavs landed a huge victory last night in what many likely had circled as a loss. They now head in to a make or break stretch for their season, and need to not overlook the Celtics to get it started. There have been let downs all season long, so it is a valid concern, but the Celtics will most likely be resting Rajon Rondo on the second night of a back to back.
Expect Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis to get back into the swing of things tonight, as they struggled last night a bit. Nights like last night aren’t all that bad when you show off a squad that is as well rounded offensively as the Mavericks are. On a night where the Mavs two studs didn’t bring their best stuff, other guys like Shawn Marion, Jose Calderon, and Vince Carter stepped right up.
Last time the Mavericks faced off against the Celtics, they prevailed 102-91. They lead by as much as 24 points, and had six guys in double figures.
The Celtics are 0-14 against the West this season on the road this season.
Keys To The Game:
1. Put Them Away Early
The Mavericks need to come out of the gates fast and early tonight against a Rondo-less Celtics squad. It’s never a good idea to let teams that have nothing to play for hang around. A good quality win will go a long ways in providing some great momentum heading into the rest of the home stand.
2. Run ‘N’ Gun
While the Celtics might not be a powerhouse on offense, defensively is a whole different story. They allow 95.5 ppg, which is good for 4th best in the NBA, but they do turn the ball over quite a bit, at 15.4 per game. The Mavericks will need to take advantage of that and turn that into easy baskets.
Matchup of the Night:
Mavericks vs Mavericks
On any given night, you don’t know which Mavericks team will show up. Riding a huge wave of momentum from last nights victory, the Mavericks can’t do what many people think can happen, which is have a let down against a Boston Celtics squad that doesn’t belong in the same gym with the Mavs. The Mavericks are a dangerous team when focused on both ends of the floor, and some teams have started to notice that. It’s the games where the focus and energy is lacking when they can easily be exposed. Which team will show up is anyone’s guess, but for the Mavericks to right the playoff ship and climb the standings, they will need to make sure they bring that energy each and every night.
“I’ve never seen an eight-game homestand in this league in 30 years. It’s very unusual. There’s opportunity here, but it’s going to be very challenging, too. We’re going to have to work to keep our edge every day and every night, and we’ll find out a lot about our character. The ability to keep that edge is one of the signs of real competitive character, and we’re going to have to have it.” - Rick Carlisle on 8-game home stand
“We can’t jump ahead of ourselves. Every team that we’re playing is capable of beating us and we know that. We’ve got to understand that, go out there and take it one game at a time and see what we can do.” - Shawn Marion
When and Where:
Tip-off at American Airlines Center tonight is at 7:30 p.m. CST. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.
6. Golden State (42-26) | Next 3 – ORL, MIL, & San Antonio
7. Dallas Mavericks (40-27) | Next 3 – BOS, MIN, & DEN
8. Memphis Grizzlies (39-27) | Next 3 – UTAH, @MIA, & IND
9. Phoenix Suns (38-28) | Next 3 – @BKN, ORL, & DET