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Game #68 - Preview: Celtics @ Mavericks

Boston Celtics
Record: 54-13
Last Ten Games: 9-1
Points scored per game: 100.5
Points allowed per game: 90.0   
Pace Factor: 90.9 (17th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 110.2 (9th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 98.7 (1st of 30)

Dallas Mavericks
Record: 44-24
Last Ten Games: 6-4
Points scored per game: 100.4
Points allowed per game: 95.5
Pace Factor: 90.2 (25th of 30)
Offensive Rating: 111.0 (7th of 30)
Defensive Rating: 105.5 (8th of 30)

Hat tip to basketball-reference.com for info on the Celtics and the Mavericks

Rajon Rondo vs. Jason Kidd
Ray Allen? vs. Jerry Stackhouse
Paul Pierce vs. Josh Howard
Kevin Garnett vs. Dirk Nowitzki
Kendrick Perkins vs. Erick Dampier

Schedule Notes
Dallas went to Miami on Sunday, rested on Monday, lost at home to the Lakers on Tuesday and took yesterday off. Meanwhile, the Celtics won the second of back-to-back games in Texas on Tuesday and then took Wednesday off as well. Advantage Dallas.

Link that Was So Good that it Earned it's Own Post But Is in the Preview Anyways
NBA.com + Texas Triangle + Boston's current road trip = awesome.

Last Time They Met
It was a TNT game in Boston, minus Scott Pollard...and Kevin Garnett. And it ended up being one of Boston's biggest wins thus far. Granted the Mavericks did not have Jason Kidd yet. Having said that Brian Scalabrine started and he no longer gets off the bench. Finally the highlight was Rajon Rondo ripping a rebound away from Dirk Nowitzki (46 seconds in) and hitting a reverse lay up to give Boston the lead late.

Can Dallas Beat A Good Team in March?
Dallas is 5-4 this month. That's not enough out West where the Mavericks are currently sitting in the seventh spot. Furthermore, they lost to the Lakers (first round playoff match up if the season ended today) twice, the Jazz and the Rockets. I can't imagine that Mavericks fans are that excited about victories over the Nets, Knicks, Bobcats, Pacers and Heat. This is a team that still has to find itself.

Everyone Forgets About Dirk
The other day I wrote the following:

"There are three power forwards/centers in the NBA - Duncan, Rasheed Wallace and Amare Stoudemire - that are match up nightmares for the entire league and Garnett gives the Celtics a fighter's chance against them. Huge. Come to think of it there are 4 with KG."

Well Dirk Nowitzki definitely fits into that group. My bad.

Interesting Fact About the Dallas Mavericks
Did you know that Popeye Jones led them in rebounding for three seasons (1994-1996)? Strangely Dallas did not make the playoffs in those years.

Everybody Hates the Mavericks?
All of the sudden Dallas appears to have earned the classification of NBA villain. Perhaps I'm overstating things a bit, but I think it is somewhat warranted. I'm not saying they actually are villains. But it is warranted to say they are viewed as such. And here's why:

  1. I don't care what anyone says, Miami's victory over Dallas in the Finals will always be a little fishy. However, the Mavericks' bitching and moaning about the result has only made them look bad. And that's not entirely fair. They are caught in between a rock and hard place on that one.
  2. Mark Cuban has completely transformed the Dallas Mavericks from a pathetic mess into a topnotch organization. Yet in the process he has made himself incredibly visible through his blog, regular criticism of referees, numerous fines levied against him, his Dancing with The Stars appearance, his behavior in the stands at games and so much more. Just do a YouTube search of "Mark Cuban" and you will find a lot of content about the Mavericks' owners. Well here is how the Internet works. Anyone as visible as Cuban is bound to come under attack. There is an incredibly negative culture on the web. At the same time Cuban is a polarizing figure that angers many.
  3. The Dallas Mavericks famously cut ties with Steve Nash. Most basketball fans sided with Nash.
  4. The Mavericks came across as a villain in their first round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. That's not really fair. But it is what it is. Seemingly everyone outside of Dallas and Germany enjoyed that Warriors team.
  5. Finally, the Mavericks have recently banned blogs from the their locker room for home games. And regardless of what Cuban says a number of people believe the decision stems from his unhappiness with Dallas Morning News blogger Tim MacMahon. I don't know if that's true. But I do buy the argument that Cuban is incredibly keyed into content on the Internet. Just read this blog post, which is Cuban's response to Leanord Shapiro criticizing the Mavericks owner and one of his business ventures.
Trouble in Big D?
Tim MacMahon reports, by way of Ed Sefko, that Avery Johnson and Mark Cuban had a heat of the moment shouting match following the Mavs loss to the Lakers Wednesday night. The organization has really struggled from the moment the 2007 regular season ended.

Will Ray Allen Play?
I have no idea. There was some talk of him playing in the beginning of the week but I can't find a definitive answer. Meanwhile, Tony Allen's back is still smarting from that hard foul by Luis Scola and the former Oklahoma State standout is day-to-day.