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Celtics Looking for Sweep of Texas Triangle

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Boston Celtics (54-13) at Dallas Mavericks (44-24)
Thursday, March 20
8:00 PM ET
Game #68, Road Game #34
TV:  TNT, KTXA HD
Radio:  WEEI, Sirius 127
American Airlines Center
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The Celtics have conquered 2/3 of the Texas Triangle and only the Dallas Mavericks remain.  The Celtics started the Texas trip by coming back from a 22 point lead to beat a motivated Spurs team and then they halted the Rockets' 22 game winning streak with a 20 point win  the following night.  Now, the Celtics are are looking to complete a clean sweep of all three Texas teams.  The 2001 Kings were the last team to do it and the Celtics haven't swept the Texas Triangle since 1987 when Bird, McHale and Parish were still roaming the parquet.

The Mavericks are a very good home team with a 29-5 record.  They are 6-4 in their last 10 and are coming off a tough 2 point loss to the Lakers.  They are 28-11 against Eastern Conference teams.  The Celtics are 22-4 against the West.  Both teams have had a day off and so should be rested.  The Mavs will be looking to bounce back from their tough loss to the Lakers and they will also be looking to avenge the earlier loss to the Celtics in Boston.  And, of course, every team wants to prove that they can beat the Celtics this season so always bring their best against them.

When the Celtics won the first matchup between these two teams at the Garden 96-90,   the lineups for both teams were much different.  The Mavericks  have brought Jason Kidd into the starting lineup at the point and Stackhouse is starting at the 2 guard. The Mavs haven't been able to beat any above .500 teams since the trade, however and will be looking to make the Celtics the first.    The Celtics had both KG and Ray Allen out  in that first game and Tony and Scal  started in their places. 

Ray Allen has been out with the ankle bruise but Doc has said that he could possibly play in this game. Celtics.com has Ray in the starting lineup in their preview.   Tony Allen who has been starting in Ray's place is questionable for this game after being fouled hard by Luis Scola and injuring his back.  If both are out, Eddie House may get the nod, but I expect to see Ray in this one.  . 

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Key Matchups
   Vs 
Rajon Rondo vs Jason Kidd
The tests just keep coming for Rondo as he faces yet another of the league's top point guards in Jason Kidd.  Rondo has the speed advantage, but Kidd has the experience advantage.

  Vs 
Kevin Garnett vs Dirk Nowitski
This is a matchup between a former MVP and the reigning MVP.  This should be a good  matchup as both can go inside and shoot on the perimeter.  Should be some good battles between these two. 

Honorable Mention

Perk vs Dampier.  I expect Perk to have another big game in this one.   

Keys to the Game
Hustle and Energy  The Celtics have been aggressive and have been diving after loose balls and have been the more aggressive team in their last two games and need to continue that in this game.  They need to come out aggressively to start the game and keep their energy up right to the end.  

Crash the Boards  The Mavs are a good rebounding team.  They are 8th in overall rebounding and 5th in offensive rebounding.  The Celtics have to beat them to the boards and limit their second chance points. 

Defense The Celtics played incredible defense in the second half against Houston and have been winning with their defense.  They need to keep up that defensive intensity. 

X-Factor

Defensive Focus    If the Celtics can maintain the defensive focus that they had in the first two games, they should be able to win this game as well. Tracy McGrady said that the Celtics defense was the best he has ever seen in his career.   If the Celtics maintain this, they are a very hard team to beat.