The Celtics will look for their sixth straight win tonight as they hop over the border and into Texas to face the Dallas Mavericks.
It is kind of a bizarre schedule this year for Boston, as they travel to the southwest earlier than usual. Instead of seeing a trio of Texas teams, they will face Dallas and head to Miami for a rematch with the Heat on Thursday.
Speaking of bizarre schedules, the Mavs have had a weird start to the season as well. After the requisit three games in five nights to open the year, the Mavs had just two games last week, and both came versus the Denver Nuggets. Dallas won the first contest in Denver on Wednesday and then dropped one at home Saturday to fall to 3-2.
Here’s what to look for tonight.
Dallas’ Offense: How does a team land in the bottom five in scoring when it is the fifth-best shooting team in the league? Turnovers. And lots of them.
The Mavericks are in the bottom five in the league with over 17 turnovers a game, so if you thought the Celtics played sloppy you could be in for a sight tonight. The Mavs have offensive weapons galore, but they get sloppy at the end of games and have faltered in the fourth quarter this year. If this game is close—and it should be with the Celtics playing the second night of a back-to-back—then it could come down to fourth quarter execution. You have to take care of the ball, and the team that does that the best might emerge victorious.
Speaking of bizarre, Dallas is the fourth best defensive team in the league in terms of points per game this season—better than Boston. Did you ever think the Mavs problems would be on offense?
Containing Dirk: Last year, the Big German averaged 32 points in the two games against Boston. He is scoring at a clip of 25 a game right now, and the Celtics obviously have to be focused on him this evening.
It will be interesting to see what the Celtics do defensively against Dirk. He is one of the best offensive weapons in the game with his outside touch and inside abilities. Expect to see a performance like Kevin Durant’s last night—plenty of points if efficient—while the Celtics key in on some of the other surrounding players. And this is a great test for Kevin Garnett as well.
Get Rondo Running: Who is going to stop Rajon Rondo?
Rodrigue Beaubois? Out with a foot injury. Jason Terry? Does he play D? Jason Kidd? Please. Maybe former Northeastern star Jose Juan Barea steps in to shut down Boston’s point guard…
Anyway, the point is that the Mavericks have no one to match up with Rondo on the defensive end. I expect him to have a big night in Big D, but Dallas fans will probably be too wrapped up in Cowboy’s controversies to notice. Their loss.