Once more, the struggles have returned to the Boston Celtics. After getting their act together temporarily and winning five games in a row and nine out of ten, Boston has dropped three in a row and five out of six. The last thing the C's need is another loss when they face the Dallas Mavericks, a team they have already lost to, at 8 p.m. EDT on Monday (TNT).
Making matters worse, the team will be without Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, as well as reserve Brandon Bass. Rondo was suspended two games by the league after throwing a ball at a referee in Sunday's game against the Detroit Pistons. Garnett is out attending to personal matters and Bass is continuing to recover from a knee injury.
The Celtics (15-15) dropped their second game in less than a week to the Pistons on Sunday, 96-81. Rondo, who threw the ball at the referee in the third quarter and was then ejected, finished with just five points, but 10 assists. Paul Pierce had 18 points, Chris Wilcox added 14 points and Ray Allen added 13 for Boston, which was held to 44.4 percent shooting.
Dallas (20-12), meanwhile, succumbed to Linsanity on Sunday in New York City, losing to Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks, 104-97, at Madison Square Garden. Dirk Nowitzki had 34 points and five boards, Shawn Marion had 14 points and seven boards and Jason Terry racked up 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Mavs shot 44.4 percent.
In the first meeting between Boston and Dallas, the Mavs posted a 90-85 win on Nowitzki's game-winning bucket. He finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. The defining quarter was the third, in which the Mavs outscored Boston, 26-18, and the C's couldn't catch up in the fourth. Rondo had 24 points and seven assists to lead Boston.
Boston will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in its next game, without Rondo and likely without Garnett, on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.