The Boston Celtics @ The Dallas Mavericks play out the intriguing game of the week this week.[caption id="attachment_15030" align="aligncenter" width="558"] Photo Credit: AP/Jim Mone[/caption] This weeks game of the week features two very interesting teams. The Celtics have had a season full of ups and downs, the Mavericks have struggled for consistency all season. Let's take a look at this match up.
GAME TIME & VIEWING OPTIONSTime & Date: Saturday, March 23, 11:30am AEDT Location: American Airlines Centre, Dallas. Viewing Info: NBA League Pass (see our TV Guide for full info)
FORM HEADING INDallas Mavericks: 31-34 Dallas has had a difficult season. They started the season without their star Dirk Nowitzki and found it hard to keep their heads above water while awaiting his return. When Dirk returned things didn't get much better, but their last month hasn't been too bad at all. They've beaten some good teams like Memphis, Houston and Milwaukee. Plus they've have only lost to teams you would expect them to lose against; OKC, San Antonio and Atlanta. Boston Celtics: 36-29 The Celtics are starting to gather momentum going into the Playoffs. They are great at home, winning 11 straight at the Garden. All season long, health has been a big problem for the Celtics. With Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger out, other guys have stood up. Players like Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass are starting to have bigger impacts on matches. It will be interesting to see how far this team can go in the Playoffs.
MATCH UP OF THE NIGHTThe most intriguing battle of the night will be Courtney Lee and O.J Mayo going head to head at the shooting guard position. Both players made off season switches, but had very different starts to their seasons. Mayo got off to a flyer and Lee was a major disappointment, but things have evened out as the season has progressed. O.J Mayo was everything Dallas wished he could be in the first couple of months of the season. He was draining three's, playing tight defence and leading the Mavericks well. Mayo's last month or so has been down, but I still have no doubt that on any given night he turn a game on its head. By no means has Mayo been bad in the last month, it's just his production has been down on his early season form. Courtney Lee has turned into one of the more crucial players for the Celtics this season. Since Rondo went down with a season ending ACL injury, Lee's minutes have increased and he's taken on the added responsibility. Lee looks comfortable as the starting shooting guard, but he can also run the point if need be. He handles the ball quite often. Mayo will have to watch out on the offensive end as Lee is dynamic on defence. If he can protect the ball and make space for himself it will go a long way to breaking down this Boston team. Lee is finding his range as the season has progressed. Sadly for basketball fans, Mayo's shot has dropped off. We are seeing fewer three's from Mayo, which was his real strong point at the beginning of the season.
BENCH BATTLEFor any team looking to compete with the best, they need good bench players. Both teams have very solid and important bench players, here's a few to look out for: Jeff Green is finally looking like the player every Celtics fan has wanted. Green is exactly what the Celtics need as they look to compete with the Heat and the rest of the East. He has a good jump shot, can produce huge slam dunks and adds some crucial rebounds for his team. Green is averaging 11.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and just over 1 assist per game. Vince Carter has been really good for the Mavericks this season. He has been flying under the radar somewhat. Don't think for one second that he can't be a consistent contributor to any NBA team. Carter may have lost some of his hops from previous years, but he can still shoot well from the beyond the arc. Carter is averaging 2 three's a game, along with 13.1 points, 4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and almost 1 steal per game. Jordan Crawford must be counting his lucky stars. He was traded from the Wizards, where he wasn't happy with playing time, to the Celtics just before the trade deadline. Crawford is a lot happier at the Celtics and the Celtics are happy to have him. Sure, Crawford has some ridiculous shot selection at times, but coach Doc Rivers is happy for him to shoot and has told him to keep shooting. In 11 games so far, Crawford has shown very promising signs. Look for him to keep improving as does the chemistry with the rest of the team. Elton Brand is in the midst a tough season. He is averaging career lows in points, offensive rebounds and assists. Brand has struggled to adapt his game to the Dallas game plan, after moving from Philadelphia in the off season. As the Mavericks look to go above .500, they will need more output from Brand, especially on the offensive end. If Brand can improve even slightly, it will give the Mavericks a lot more confidence in him, not just for this season, but also for going forward.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UPSDallas Mavericks:
- Point guard: Darren Collison
- Shooting guard: O.J Mayo
- Small forward: Jae Crowder
- Power forward: Dirk Nowitzki
- Centre: Chris Kaman
- Point guard: Avery Bradley
- Shooting guard: Courtney Lee
- Small forward: Paul Pierce
- Power forward: Brandon Bass
- Centre: Kevin Garnett
PREDICTIONIf this match was in Boston, I would back the Celtics to win quite easily. As this match however is in Dallas, I expect it to be a very close battle. Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki are keys to the game. If either of those two get going early, their team will follow and it could spell major trouble. My prediction: Boston Celtics: 96 - Dallas Mavericks: 90
Will Paul Pierce be able to enforce his will without a solid wing defender for Dallas?