Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics welcome Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks to town as the C's attempt to knock off the defending NBA champions on Wednesday night.
Event: Dallas Mavericks (5-5) vs. Boston Celtics (4-4) - NBA Regular Season, Game 9.
Date/Time: Wednesday, January 11, 2012.
Location: TD Garden (Capacity: 18,624), Boston, MA.
Broadcast Info: Wednesday's game between the Celtics and Mavericks will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. The game will also be televised regionally on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson or Kyle Draper bringing you the action courtside. In addition, the game will be aired on the WEEI Sports Radio Network (93.7 FM/850 AM), with Sena Grande and Cedric Maxwell calling the action.
Odds: Boston is a 5 1/2-point favorite over Dallas on Wednesday evening.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Mavericks Roster 2011-12: Rodrigue Beaubois, Brian Cardinal, Vince Carter, Brendan Haywood, Dominique Jones, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Lamar Odom, Jason Terry, Delonte West, Sean Williams, Brandan Wright, Yi Jianlian. Head Coach: Rick Carlisle.
Celtics And Mavericks In 2011: Boston and Dallas met twice last season, with the Mavericks winning both games in the home-and-home series. In the first matchup, the Mavs won 89-87 on Nov. 8 thanks in part to a 35-point performance from Dirk Nowitzki. In the Mavs' 101-97 win over the C's on Feb. 4, Nowitzki had 29 points and ex-Mavericks center Tyson Chandler grabbed 15 rebounds in the process.
Last Time Out: Ray Allen scored a game-high 23 points, but that was the only high for the Boston Celtics, who were defeated by the Indiana Pacers, 87-74, on Friday night. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Boston, which shot a mere 39.4 percent from the floor on 26-of-66 shooting. Boston scored 25 points in the first half, tying their worst single-half effort in franchise history. Paul Pierce went 3-for-17 from the field and finished with just 10 points for Boston.
Dallas is coming off an easy win over the lowly Detroit Pistons, 100-86, on Tuesday night. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 18 points and seven rebounds for Dallas, which was effective from the floor, shooting 55.1 percent. Shawn Marion scored 14 points, Vince Carter added 11 points and Delonte West added six points and 10 assists in the Mavericks' victory.
Statistical Central: Ray Allen is the Celtics' leading scorer, averaging 20.4 points. Rajon Rondo averages a team-best 10.5 assists and 1.8 steals while Kevin Garnett averaged 7.0 rebounds and Greg Stiemsma is averaging 2.2 blocks. Boston is ranked 21st in the league in points for (92.8 PPG), 28th in team rebounding (37.6 RPG), fifth in assists per game (22.9 APG) and is eighth in points allowed (92.3 PPG).
Dirk Nowtizki is the Mavericks' leading scorer, averaging 18.9 points. Jason Kidd averages team highs in both assists (4.5 APG) and steals (1.9 SPG) while Brendan Haywood averages 6.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks. Dallas ranks 17th in the NBA in points for (93.5 PPG), 27th in rebounding (39.8 RPG), 11th in assists (21.7 APG) and 12th in points allowed (94.5 PPG).
Storyline: It always makes for a good match-up whenever the defending NBA champs come to town. To make matters even more interesting, Boston and Dallas are very similar teams. Both have an aging core of stars and veteran journeyman who have stumbled out of the gate to .500 records (Boston is 4-4 while Dallas is 5-5). It is going to be difficult for both teams to make deep playoff runs when facing youthful conference foes like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.
Dallas enters tonight's game on a little bit of a roll, having won two straight. Meanwhile, the Celtics are licking their wounds after falling short in an ugly contest against the Pacers. Don't expect the two team's previous games to factor in tonight, though, as both teams have players who know how to block out the past and focus on the present.
Dirk Nowitzki is always a dangerous opponent, and shouldn't have much of a problem against an older (yet still loud and intimidating) Kevin Garnett. Nowitzki's deadly brand of basketball -- he is just as comfortable posting up as he is taking long-range jumpers -- will be very tough (if not impossible) to stop. Nevertheless, Boston will do what it can to stop Dirk.
Also, Delonte West returns to Boston for the first time since signing with the Mavericks in the offseason. The debate continues as to whether or not the Celtics are better off with Keyon Dooling over West, and tonight's game could help put that conversation to rest (at least for a little while). In a far less notable point for NBA fans, Sean Williams -- a Boston College graduate -- returns to the area tonight with the Mavs.
Players To Watch: Dirk Nowitzki (didn't you see the paragraph above?) is the key player for both teams in this game. If Dirk is on for Dallas, there may not be much hope for Boston. However, an off night could lead to a comfortable Celtics victory. Dallas has solid role players like Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Jason Terry, and so on. Look for the Mavs' depth to come in handy on Wednesday.
Boston will be looking to its usual candidates -- Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett -- for big performances tonight. If two or more have good games, the Celtics are probably in good shape. Keep an eye on Brandon Bass' performance, as the early candidate for Sixth Man of the Year had a poor outing against Indiana. Bass' play off the bench is crucial for the Celtics in order to give their starters much-needed rest.
Prediction: WIth two similar teams (with two similar aging cores), this could be a very interesting game. Don't expect a shootout, at least in terms of a high scoring affair, but we could see some interesting defensive battles in this one. Neither team sticks out at this point, but I'm giving the edge to the Mavs in this one. Final Score: Dallas 93, Boston 85.