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Streaking Celtics Welcome the Mavs to the Garden

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Dallas Mavericks (25-18) at Boston Celtics (36-9)
Sunday, January 25
1:00 PM ET
Game #46, Home Game #24
TV: ABC
TD Banknorth Garden

Game Thread l Chat

Mavs Blog: Mavs Moneyball

The Celtics are looking for their 8th win in a row as the Mavericks visit the Garden in a nationally televised afternoon game. This is the final game of the Mavs' 4 game road trip in which they are 2-1 so far, beating Philly and Detroit and losing to Milwaukee.

The Mavericks are 12-11 on the road while the Celtics are 21-2 at home. The Celtics swept the Mavs last season for the first time since the '93-'94 season. This is the first meeting between these two teams this season.

Former Celtic Gerald Green will be making his first visit this season to the Garden. He started off the season playing well but his playing time has diminished and he has spent time on the inactive list lately. He has played in just 23 games and is averaging 11 minutes per game.

Dallas is a tough team and they will be looking to avenge the sweep last season and so the Celtics need to come out strong and they definitely can't take this team for granted.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
vs
Rondo Kidd

Shooting Guard
vs
Allen Wright

Small Forward

vs
Pierce Howard

Power Forward
vs
Garnett Nowitski

Center
vs
Perkins Dampier

Boston CelticsInjuries
Tony Allen (ankle) day to day
JR Giddens (wrist) day to day

Dallas MavericksInjuries
None

Key Matchups
vs
Rajon Rondo PPG 10.9 RPG 4.90 APG 8.0 EFF + 18.02
Jason Kidd PPG 9.1 RPG 6.50 APG 8.2 EFF + 19.19
Rondo has been playing very well lately and when Rondo is aggressive and playing well, the Celtics are a tough team to beat. Jason Kidd has showed down somewhat but is still one of the better point guards in the league. Rondo will have the advantage if he uses his speed to get past Kidd.

vs
Kevin Garnett PPG 16.1 RPG 9.20 APG 2.6 EFF + 21.98
Dirk Nowitski PPG 26.0 RPG 8.50 APG 2.5 EFF + 25.41
Dirk has been playing very well and will be a tough matchup for KG. But then again, KG is a tough matchup for everyone including Dirk. Dirk has tended to disappear when played physically and so expect some physical play inside.

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce PPG 19.1 RPG 5.70 APG 3.7 EFF + 18.66
Josh Howard PPG 17.8 RPG 5.00 APG 1.8 EFF + 14.36
Josh Howard plays very well, especially in the first quarter as he has been averaging over 11 points in the games he has started. Pierce needs to try to contain him from the start and not let him get going early.

Team Connections
Brian Scalabrine and Jason Kidd were teammates in New Jersey
Gerald Green was originally drafted by the Celtics with the 18th pick in the 2005 draft
Brandon Bass and Big Baby Davis are former LSU Tigers
Mavs Coach Rick Carlisle played for the Celtics from 1984-1987 and won a ring with the Celtics in 1986.

Keys to the Game
Defense When the Celtics play their trademark tough defense, they are very hard to beat. When they went on the losing streak, it was the defense that was missing. As long as they stress defense and put the defense first, they have a very good chance of beating any team in the league.

Rebound The Mavericks are a very good rebounding team and are 3rd in the league in defensive rebounds. The Celtics need to be aggressive in crashing the boards and going after rebounds.

Limit Turnovers The Celtics still turn the ball over too much and they need to work on taking better care of the ball. A team like the Nets will make them pay by converting the turnovers into points.

Be Aggressive The Celtics need to be aggressive in going after loose balls and taking the ball to the basket. While the Celtics are good shooters, they shouldn't depend on the outside shot (see Orlando Magic). They need to aggressively take the ball to the hoop as well as be aggressive in going after loose balls and rebounds.

X-Factor
Home Sweet Home The Celtics have played very well at home, losing only 2 games there this season. The Mavs are finishing up a 4 game road trip and although they have won 2 of the games, coming into the unfriendly confines of the TD Banknorth Garden may be too much for them to overcome.