There's no way around it: the glory days are behind the Celtics and Mavericks.
Boston and Dallas both had their moments in the sun during the past decade and . Each made it to the NBA Finals twice since 2006, and they both have one title apiece to show for it. Between the two, they have at least four future Hall of Famers (you could even make the case for seven). Yet they're both on the back nine of their favorite status. Of course, you'll never hear that from them.
Don't be fooled, though. Just because the Celtics and Mavericks aren't favorites anymore does not mean they are not still contenders, and they'll both be trying to prove that point when they collide Wednesday evening in Boston, MA.
Each team enters Wednesday's game in seventh place in their respective conference, but neither is more than 6.5 games out of first in their division with lots of basketball left. Between the two, they have 22 wins and 19 losses.
Boston (11-9) has alternated wins and losses over its last seven games, but came out on top in its most recent battle against the Philadelphia 76ers, 92-79, on Saturday night. Kevin Garnett (19 points), Jeff Green (16 points) and Paul Pierce (13 points) did most of the damage while Rajon Rondo approached a triple-double with seven points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. The Celtics shot an efficient 53.3 percent from the floor and racked up 25 assists.
As a month of sub-.500 basketball in November, Dallas (11-10) has been hot in December, winning four out of five games and three in a row. The Mavs' latest win came over the lowly Sacramento Kings, 119-96, in a game that featured a questionable low blow delivered by DeMarcus Cousins to O.J. Mayo, resulting in Mayo saying that Cousins has "mental issues." Mayo led the Mavs with 19 points and seven boards while Chris Kaman scored 18 and Darren Collison chipped in with 15 bench points.
Dallas is without star big man Dirk Nowitzki, who is still recovering from a knee injury and is still expected to miss a few more weeks. Another interesting dynamic to the game is the matchup between Jason Terry and the Mavs, his former team that did not offer him a contract last offseason. Terry will certainly be motivated to show his old teammates (and owner Mark Cuban) that they made a mistake by passing on him.
Wednesday marks the first of two meetings between Boston and Dallas, with the next contest taking place on Mar. 22. Tip off is set for 8 p.m. ET.
For more Boston Celtics coverage, check out our team blog, Celtics Blog.