Mavs at Celtics Game Preview and Official Report

Dallas Mavericks (33-15) at Boston Celtics (37-11)
Friday, February 4
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #49, Home Game #26
Radio:  WEEI, KESN
TD Garden  
Referees:   Bob Delaney, Curtis Blair, Eric Lewis

This is the second and final meeting between these two teams.  The Mavs won the first meeting in Dallas by 2 points in early November.   In that game,  the Celtics out played the Mavs in just about every category.  The Celtics had 42 rebounds to 38 for the Mavs, 14 offensive rebounds to 4, 38 points in the paint to 32 for Dallas,   just 12 turnovers for the Celtics vs 17 turnovers for the Mavs.  So, what was the big difference in that game?  It was free throws.  The Celtics took just 7 free throws to 20 for the Mavericks. 

Shaq and Perk both missed that game and Jermaine O'Neal put in one of his few appearances in the starting lineup.   Reports out of Thursday's practice were that Shaq sat out and was questionable for this one.  I originally had Shaq starting, but given that Perk is playing extremely well and Shaq is struggling with an Achilles problem, I changed the lineup to include Perk who may get his first start of the season in this game.  Perk first targeted this game as his first back, but he surprised everyone and came back early.  Maybe this game will be his first start instead of his first game. 

This is the Celtics first game home after a successful road trip and hopefully they brought their focus and energy back with them from the West coast and will come out ready to play in this one.   The Mavericks come into this game on a 6 game win streak.  They have averaged 102.8 points per game during the win streak.  But they are also playing defense as they have held opponents to 96 points during that stretch.

The Mavs are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 14-7 on the road.  The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games and 22-3 at home.  They are a perfect 16-0 at home vs Eastern conference teams and 6-3 at home vs Western conference teams. 

   Against the Mavs, who have momentum and a ton of confidence right now, the Celtics must come out strong and play hard for 48 minutes.  Anything less and they could find themselves swept by the Mavs this season. 

Probable Starting Matchups
Point Guard
Rajon Rondo vs Jason Kidd

Shooting Guard

Ray Allen vs DeShawn Stevenson

Small Forward

Paul Pierce vs Brian Cardinal

Power Forward
Kevin Garnett vs Dirk Nowitski 


Kendrick Perkins vs Tyson Chandler  

Boston Bench Mob
Marquis Daniels
Glen Davis
Luke Harangody
Nate Robinson
Von Wafer
Semih Erden

Jermaine O'Neal (knee) out
Delonte West (wrist)  out 
Shaquille O'Neal (leg)  questionable

Avery Bradley 

Dallas Reserves
Dominique Jones
Shawn Marion
Jose Juan Barea
Brendan Haywood
Brian Cardinal
Ian Mahinmi
Jason Terry

Rodrigue Beaubois (foot)  out 
Peja Stojakovik (knee) out
Caron Butler (knee)  out 

Key Matchups
Rajon Rondo vs Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd is one of the top veteran PG's in the league.  He may have lost a step with age, but he has gained some tricks along the way.   Rondo has the speed,  but Kidd has the experience.  All in all, the Celtics should have the advantage if Rondo plays aggressively.  Sitting out the 4th quarter against the Kings should give him motivation and added energy.

Kevin Garnett vs Dirk Nowitski 
This should be a great matchup between two of the premiere power forwards in the league.   Dirk has the capability of taking over a game and KG will need to concentrate on his defense to keep him from having a big game.  Both have been playing well and so this should be fun to watch.  Dirk averages 27.3 points per game vs the Celtics, which is the most he scores vs any opponent.  Hopefully KG is ready to lower that average a bit in this one. 

Honorable Mention
Paul Pierce vs Brian Cardinal
Cardinal has started the last 3 games for the Mavericks and it should be fairly easy for Pierce to get his shots against him.  Cardinal is also not a huge threat to score and so it will be easier on Pierce on the defensive end as well.  Pierce has averaged 25.7 ppg against the Mavs since the 05-06 season, which is the most that he averages against any team.  He needs to continue his strong play vs this team. 

Record Watch

 Ray Allen
Ray needs just 9 three pointers to pass Reggie Miller for the all time NBA leader.   He has been shooting the ball exceptionally well and we'll be watching and counting down until he claims the record. 

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, they are going to get the win.  In their last game, the Mavs out rebounded the Knicks 54-34 and the Celtics can't allow them to control the boards like that in this game. 

Defense - Defense is always crucial to getting a win.  Defense wins games is not just a cliche, it is the truth.  The Celtics must continue to play tough team defense in this and every game.  Against the Mavs, defense is especially crucial because they are 23-1 when they reach 100 points.

Bench Play - The bench was terrible in the first half vs the Kings until Ray let them have it.  The Celtics need the reserves to come in and hold or increase a lead if they have it.   If the starters have to dig out of a hole that the 2nd unit makes, they may not have the energy to close out the game.  The Mavs have a strong bench and so the Celtics bench must show up. 

Official Report

Bob Delaney
Delaney has officiated over 1,300 regular season games, 120+ play-off games and 7 NBA Finals games. Delaney was formerly a police officer. He worked under cover in an investigation of New Jersey organized crime and helped to bring a portion of the mob in that state down. While serving as a police officer, Delaney was also a high school basketball referee in New Jersey from 1972 to 1982 and later officiated in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) for four years before being selected by scouts to officiate in the NBA, beginning in 1987.   The Celtics are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Delaney officiating and are 2-2 so far this season.   The Mavs are 4-6 with Delaney.   If you recall, it was Bob Delaney that Shaq was fined for calling out after the Celtics Christmas Day loss in Orlando.  His home W/L record this season is 23-13. 

Curtis Blair
A 6'3" and 185 lb point guard, Blair played college basketball for the University of Richmond Spiders. Blair was honored as the Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball Player of the Year in 1991-92 season, as well as a two-time first-team All-CAA and three-time CAA All-Tournament team selection. He was selected by the Houston Rockets in the 2nd round (53rd overall) of the 1992 NBA Draft, though he never played in a regular-season game for the Rockets. Following a brief career playing overseas, Blair became a referee in the NBA. This is his 3rd season as an NBA official. Celtics are 9-1 in their last 10 games and 4-0 this season with Blair as an official. The Mavs are 4-2 in recent games with Blair. His home W/L record this season is 20-14.

Eric Lewis
This is Lewis' sixth season as an NBA official. He has worked for the NBA-D league during 3 seasons, 2 seasons in the USBL, 8 years in the NCAA, and officiated in Florida high school for 8 years before making it to the NBA. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 and 1-0 so far this season with Lewis as a ref. The Mavs are 9-1 with Lewis over their last 10. His home W/L record this season is 22-14

Revenge and Home Court
The Mavericks beat the Celtics by 2 points in Dallas and are the only one of the top teams to beat the Celtics so far this season.  The Celtics should come into this game looking to avenge that loss.  They are also at home where they have been taking care of business very well this season.  The home crowd should boost them in their first game back after the road trip.