There was a time when a late-March matchup with the Dallas Mavericks was one of the last things a potential NBA contender wanted to see heading into the final stretch of the regular season. This year, not so much. With 30-1 odds of winning the NBA championship, the Boston Celtics will hit the road optimistic about their chances of adding yet another victory to their impressive 2012-13 campaign.
Since superstar point guard Rajon Rondo went down with a knee injury at the end of January, the Celtics have played some of the best basketball they’ve ever played as a team. Now, with a veteran ball club like the Mavs waiting to knock them down a peg or two, they’ll look to prove that their resurgence as a force on the NBA betting line was no fluke.
With Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce leading the show, can Boston establish itself as a legitimate candidate to win the Eastern Conference?
Despite their advantage on the NBA futures, a mid-season matchup with the Mavericks won’t exactly be a walk in the park. Dallas does, after all, boast future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and a bevy of substantial offensive weapons capable of taking over ball games.
One misstep and the C’s could find themselves slipping down the crowded East standings. Currently tangled in a ball of mid-level playoff contenders, the C’s are one of six teams within 3.5 games of second place in the conference. A win over Dallas might not pave their way to glory, but a loss could certainly make things harder than they have to be.
Betting on the NBA playoff stretch will be a bit of a challenge this year, given the turnover that’s taken place in the Atlantic Division alone. Last year’s leader, the Philadelphia 76ers, are currently at the bottom of the pile while the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets have emerged as viable threats to ultimately take and hold the final spot.
Adding to the drama of Friday’s clash is the fact that Boston’s primary offseason recruit, Jason Terry, spent the majority of his career playing and contending with Dallas. It was with Terry that the Mavs won the 2006 Western Conference championship and, of course, the 2011 NBA title.
Back in Texas for the first time this year, Terry will look to put on a show and demonstrate that he made the right choice by signing in Boston.