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Celtics look to close out road trip with a win over the Mavericks

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The Celtics and Mavericks are two of the hottest teams in the league. Both will be looking win their third straight game as the Celtics close out their road trip in Dallas.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

at
Boston Celtics (35-19) at Dallas Mavericks (22-32)
Monday, February 13, 2017
8:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #55 – Road Game #28
TV: CSN-NE, FSSW, NBA-LP 760(DTV)/ 756(xfinity)
Radio: 98.5 The Sports Hub, 103.3 FM ESPN
American Airlines Center
Referees: Rodney Mott, Brian Forte, Justin Van Duyne


The Celtics close out their 4 game Western road trip with a stop in Dallas to take on the Mavericks. Both teams come into this match on hot streaks. The Celtics have won 2 straight and 9 of their last 10. The Mavs have also won their last two games and 7 of their last 10 games. They are also 6-1 in their last 7 games at home

This is the second and final meeting between these two teams. The Celtics won the first meeting 90-83 in Boston on November 16. Both teams were battling injuries in that game. Jae and Al were both out and Isaiah was playing with an injured finger that affected his shooting. Dirk and Devin Harris both missed the game and Deron Williams played just 10 minutes in the first half.

That November win stopped a 7 game win streak over the Celtics by the Mavericks. The Mavs won the series 2-0 last season and have won 6 straight vs the Celtics at the American Airlines Center. The Celtics are 16-11 on the road and Dallas is 14-13 at home. The Celtics are 2-1 on their road trip and would love to finish it with a win.

Jae Crowder has missed the past two games for personal reasons and will play in this game according to reports. Jae started his career in Dallas before being included in the trade for Rajon Rondo so naturally he would want to get a win over the team that traded him. Avery Bradley is not with the team and will miss this game. Jaylen Brown left Saturday's game with a hip flexor and is expected to be out until after the All Star game. Gerald Green is questionable with an illness.

Deron Williams returned from a toe injury on Saturday for the Mavs and should be available for this game. JJ Barea is out with a calf injury . Andrew Bogut is out with a hamstring injury. Marcus Smart will more than likely start in Avery's place with Jaylen being out. The Mavs have a very energetic 6' point guard named Yogi Ferrell who has been playing very well for them and Marcus would be helpful to guard him. Terry Rozier may get that assignment if Marcus does start.

Brad Stevens has said that he may change the starting lineup according to matchups. This would seem to be one of those cases. I have listed Al and Amir starting as usual but it would seem that starting Al and Jonas might be a better decision against Barnes and Dirk. That decision will probably be announced closer to game time if he does decide to make the change.

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard

vs
Isaiah Thomas vs Deron Williams

Shooting Guard
vs
Marcus Smart vs Seth Curry

Small Forward

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Jae Crowder vs Wesley Matthews

Power Forward

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Al Horford vs Harrison Barnes

Center

vs
Amir Johnson vs Dirk Nowitski

Celtics Reserves

Demetrius Jackson
Jordan Mickey
Terry Rozier
James Young
Jonas Jerebko
Tyler Zeller
Kelly Olynyk

Injuries

Jaylen Brown (hip) day to day
Jae Crowder (personal) will play
Avery Bradley (Achilles) out
Gerald Green (illness) questionable
Head Coach
Brad Stevens



Mavs Reserves
Justin Anderson
Dorian Finney Smith
AJ Hammons
Salah Mejri
Dwight Powell
Yogi Ferrell
Nicolas Brussino
Devin Harris

Injuries

Jose Juan Barea (calf) out
Andrew Bogut (hamstring) out

Head Coach

Rick Carlisle

Key Matchups
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Isaiah Thomas vs Deron Williams
Williams played just 10 minutes in the first meeting between these two teams. After missing time with a toe injury, Williams returned to the Dallas lineup on Saturday to score 20 points and dish out 7 assists. He is averaging 13.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 7.0 assists. Isaiah will need to use his quickness to combat Williams' size and strength.

vs
Al Horford vs Harrison Barnes
Barnes is having a break out season with the Mavs, averaging 20.1points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He led the Mavericks with 28 points in the first meeting between these two teams. Al needs to limit his production in this one.

Honorable Mention
Amir Johnson vs Dirk Nowitski
Dirk didn't play in the first meeting between these two teams because of an Achilles strain. He is averaging 13.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists this season. Dirk may not be as quick as he once was but he is still a very dangerous foe if given open looks at the basket.

Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense wins games. The Celtics are allowing 105.8 points per game and that is too many for a team with as many good defenders as the Celtics have. The Mavericks haven't been exactly locking down teams either, allowing 100.2 points per game but they are defending better than the Celtics. The Celtics simply must work on playing tough team defense to get a win in this one.

Rebound
- Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics have to put out extra effort to win the battle of the boards. When they work hard on the boards, it usually follows through to the rest of the game as well. The Celtics are averaging 41.4 rebounds per game while the Mavs are averaging 38.3 rebounds per game. The Celtics out-rebounded the Mavs in their first meeting 53-32. The Celtics need another good effort on the boards in this game.

Be Aggressive
- The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team in going to the basket, diving for loose balls, going after 50/50 balls, grabbing rebounds, and just playing harder in general. They have to be the team that wants it more. The effort was missing against the Kings and they lost but they showed great effort in their last two games and they need to continue to bring it in this game.

Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics need to move the ball and find the open man but they also need to make careful passes so as not to turn the ball over. They turned the ball over 19 times to just 9 for the Mavs in their last meeting. They have to keep their focus and avoid costly turnovers that could lead to easy points for the Mavs.

X-Factors
Effort and Focus
- The Celtics can't get complacent. They have to play hard, be aggressive, run and move the ball. They also have to keep their focus and overcome the distractions that playing on the road brings. If the effort and focus are there, they have a good chance to win this game.

Win it for Jae - Every player likes to get a win over the team that traded them. Although Jae has been very complimentary of his time with the Mavs, he still wants to get the win over his former team and his teammates should play hard to help him get one. Last season the Celtics lost in overtime in Dallas and Jae has said that he really wants to get a win in this game.

Officiating
- Officiating is always an x-factor. How the refs call the game has a big influence on how the teams play. Will they let them play or call every little bit of contact? Will they call it evenly or will they favor one team or the other. Will they be influenced by the home crowd? However the refs call the game, the Celtics need to play through it and not let the officials take their focus off of playing their game.