Celtics hope for luck of the Irish as they visit the Dallas Mavericks

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics are hoping for the Luck of the Irish as they visit the Dallas Mavericks without Rajon Rondo on St Patrick's Day.

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Boston Celtics (22-45) at Dallas Mavericks (40-27)
Monday, March 17, 2014
8:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #68 – Road Game #33
TV: CSN-NE, FSSW-DAL, NBA-LP 759(DTV)/757(Xfinity)
Radio: WBZ, 103.3 FM
American Airlines Center
Referees: Mike Callahan, Sean Corbin, Scott Twardoski

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The Celtics are hoping for the Luck of the Irish as they visit the Dallas Mavericks on St Patrick's Day. They are still looking for their first win of the season vs Western teams on the road. Both teams are playing in the second of back to back games as well as traveling overnight.

The Celtics dropped a one point game to the Pelicans in overtime while the Mavericks are coming off of a 23 point win over the Thunder. The Mavs have won two in a row and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Celtics have lost their last 4 games and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. The Mavs are 21-10 at home while the Celtics are 8-24 on the road, and winless against Western Conference foes on the road.

The Mavericks are the 7th seed in the West, 1 game behind the 6th spot and 1/2 game ahead of the 8th spot. They are also just 1.5 games ahead of the Suns, who are 9th in the West and fighting hard to make the playoffs. The Celtics are still 4th from the bottom of the East and tied with Utah, who also lost on Sunday, for the 4th worst record overall. They move 1/2 game ahead of the Lakers, who were idle on Sunday.

Rondo will more than likely be taking the night off after playing the night before and Brad Stevens has said that he likely will sit out the second of back to back games for the rest of the season. After the loss to the Pelicans, Stevens said that if Avery Bradley is feeling good after playing the night before, he probably will start this game.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Phil Pressey vs Jose Calderon

Shooting Guard
vs
Avery Bradley vs Monta Ellis

Small Forward
vs
Jeff Green vs Shawn Marion

Power Forward
vs
Brandon Bass vs Dirk Nowitski

Center
vs



Celtics Reserves
Jerryd Bayless
Kelly Olynyk
Joel Anthony
Chris Johnson
Jared Sullinger
Chris Babb

Injuries
Keith Bogans (personal) out
Vitor Faverani (knee) out
Gerald Wallace (knee,ankle) out
Rajon Rondo (rest) out



Mavericks Reserves
Vince Carter
DeJuan Blair
Brandan Wright
Devin Harris
Shane Larkin
Bernard James
Wayne Ellington
Ricky Ledo
Gal Mekel

Injuries
Jae Crowder (ab strain) day to day

Key Matchups
vs
Brandon Bass vs Dirk Nowitski
It doesn't get any easier for Brandon Bass, who had to guard Anthony Davis on Sunday only to turn around and have to guard Dirk Nowitski in this game. Dirk is getting older, but he doesn't seem to have lost much as he is averaging 21.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He has a size advantage over Brandon Bass and will be a tough matchup for him. He scored 20 on the Celtics when these two teams met in February.

vs
Avery Bradley vs Monta Ellis
Bradley seemed to be getting back to his old self in Sunday's game and Brad Stevens plans to reinsert him into the starting lineup if he is still feeling good for this one. Ellis is averaging 18.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals this season and is capable of putting up points in bunches if left open. Bradley will need to play tough defense in this one.

Keys to the Game
Rebound - Rebounding is so crucial to getting a win. When the Celtics put out the effort to grab rebounds, more often than not, that effort extends to other areas of their game. Rebounding is all in who wants it more and the Celtics have to be the team that wants it more. Hopefully they can do a better job of keeping the Mavs off the boards than they were able to with Anthony Davis.

Defense - Defense is always crucial to getting a win. Defense wins games is not just a cliche, it is the truth. The Celtics must play tough team defense especially against high scoring teams like the Mavs who average over 104 points per game.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics have to be aggressive in going to the basket and not settling for jumpers. They have to be aggressive on defense and in diving for loose balls. They have to be the team to set the pace. They have to be the team that plays harder and goes after every rebound and loose ball.

Focus - The Celtics have to keep their focus for all 48 minutes. They can't afford a lapse like they have in many games where they turn the ball over and start missing their shots. It's easy to lose focus on the road but they can't afford to let up against veteran teams like the Mavs.

X-Factors
Fatigue and Pride

Both teams are playing in back to back games and both teams had to travel overnight. Will fatigue be a factor for either team?
The Celtics have said that they are playing for pride. They played hard and gave themselves a chance to beat the Pelicans but it didn't go their way. Will that loss set them back or make them more eager for a win on this trip?
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