The Celtics had a strong opener to their three-game road trip, beating Houston 94-87 behind 26 points from a resurgent Paul Pierce. But this next one will be even tougher. With no time to rest, the Celtics run into a Dallas team that's won 14 of its last 15 games.
Saturday, March 20, 9 p.m. ET (CSNNE)
American Airlines Arena, Dallas, Texas
Celtics (44-24, first place in Atlantic Division)
Mavericks (46-22, first place in Southwest Division)
This is the second of the Celtics' two meetings with Dallas this season, and they lost the first on a night when Kevin Garnett was injured and the entire bench forgot to show up. Dirk Nowitzki led the way for the visitors, putting up 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting in the 99-90 victory for the Mavs at the TD Garden on Jan. 18. The C's will have to find a way to contain Dirk this time around.
Since making a deadline deal last month to strip the Washington Wizards of basically all their remaining talent, the Mavs have been pretty much unbeatable. With Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood now in the fold, the Mavs have rattled off 14 wins in their last 15 games and they've entered the conversation, along with the Lakers and perhaps Denver, as an elite contender in the Western Conference. If the Mavs aren't a championship-caliber team yet, they're awfully close. This Dallas squad is explosive, physical and deep. Look out.
Point guard: Rajon Rondo
Shooting guard: Ray Allen
Small forward: Paul Pierce
Power forward: Kevin Garnett
Center: Kendrick Perkins
Point guard: Jason Kidd
Shooting guard: Caron Butler
Small forward: Shawn Marion
Power forward: Dirk Nowitzki
Center: Brendan Haywood
The Celtics are 2-1 against Texan teams this season — they have a loss to the Mavs but one win each over San Antonio and Houston.
They have committed 1,037 turnovers this season, sixth-most in the NBA.
Rajon Rondo had 10 assists in the Celtics' win over the Rockets on Friday night. He now has 652 on the season and needs just seven tonight to match his career high of 659 set last season.
Ray Allen leads the C's in field goals attempted (382) and field goals made (809).
Kevin Garnett is shooting 83.1 percent from the free throw line. He's on pace to finish over 80 percent for the sixth consecutive season.
Kendrick Perkins is averaging only 4.0 points per game in 12 career meetings with the Mavericks.
Paul Pierce is averaging a career-low 4.2 rebounds this season.
They shoot an NBA-best 81.7 percent from the free throw line.
Dirk Nowitzki ranks seventh in the NBA with exactly 25.0 points per game.
Jason Kidd ranks in the top five in the NBA in assists (611, fourth) and steals (123, third).
Caron Butler has 17.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in his first 14 games in a Mavericks uniform.
Brendan Haywood has also played 14 games with the Mavs. He's giving them 8.8 points and 5.0 boards a night, along with 2.1 blocks.
Shawn Marion is averaging 20.7 points and 10.5 rebounds against the Celtics in his career.
The Celtics have been in perfect health all March.
Tim Thomas is expected to miss the rest of the season for personal reasons, as he tends to his ill wife.
In 1976, the Celtics beat the Sixers in overtime, 103-96. John Havlicek crossed the 1,000-point mark for the season in that game, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 1,000-plus in 14 consecutive seasons.
"You think about it, but you don’t. At the end of the day, everybody’s record’s the same in the playoffs: 0-0."
–Kendrick Perkins, when asked if he'd thought much about the Celtics' playoff chances
Paul Pierce takes charge.
Pierce and Ray Allen led the C's against Houston.
New face mask, new nickname for Jason Terry.
Dirk Nowitzki has kind words for the Bulls' Derrick Rose.
LeBron James is the youngest to reach 15,000 points.
LeBron and Kobe Bryant sound off on the No. 1 pick.
Brandon Jennings hit eight 3-pointers to carry Milwaukee to victory.
This is a deeper, more flexible team Mavs since the C's last faced them in January as they've got more scoring potential in Caron Butler and more toughness inside with Brendan Haywood. This is one of the NBA's elite teams now, and the C's will need the complete package to have a chance in this one.
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