The last time the Mavs and Celtics met Boston was sporting a 15 game win streak and Dallas only had 3 wins. Even though their records were on opposite ends of the spectrum, Dallas pushed the Celtics win streak to the brink only to fall in overtime 102- 110. On Wednesday December 6th at 6:30 PM central time Dallas will look to once again upset Boston and end the Celtics 3 game winning streak as well as extend their own winning streak to 3 games, which would be the longest of the season for the Mavs.
Mavs Subtle Improvement
It seems like the Mavs have found their footing by winning 4 of their past 6 games. Their wins came against Memphis, Oklahoma City, LA Clippers, and Denver. In all of their 4 wins over the past 6 games, with the exception of the game against Denver, the Mavs have held their opponents under 100 points. In fact, Monday’s game against Denver was the first time this season the Mavs have won while allowing their opponent to score 100 points and it was also their highest scoring game of the season with 122 points.
Over the past 6 games the Mavs are 7th in the league in plus-minus at +8, with the Celtics behind them in 8th at +7. For the season Dallas is -3, good for 23rd in the league, so the improvement is evident. Along with improving their plus-minus over the last 6, Dallas has also improved its defensive rating to 101 which puts them at 4th in the NBA, compared to their season rating of 106 – 18th in the NBA. Boston has the best defensive rating in the league this season at 99.1, but over their last 6 they have fallen to 107.7 which is good for 17th in the league.
Along with their improvement in defense and plus-minus Dallas has also improved on the offensive end. This season Dallas ranks 25th in the NBA in offensive rating, scoring 101.9 points per 100 possessions. Over the last 6 the Mavs are 8th in the NBA, scoring 110.2 points per 100 possessions. The Celtics are 10th in the NBA this season at 105.9 but over their last 6 games they are 2nd in the NBA at 115.8.
Two Key Stats
Rebounds: At this point I am pretty sure that this stat will always make it into my two key stat section due to the Mavs lineups. It is so important for the Mavs to be diligent on the boards, especially when they run their line up that features Dirk at the 5 position. Boston is 9th in the league in total rebounds per game with 45 and 17th in the NBA in offensive rebounds with 9.3 per game. Dallas currently sits at 20th in the NBA in total rebounds per game with 42.2. The Mavs will need to limit the Celtics offensive rebounds, as Boston scores 12 second chance points per game, in order to give themselves a chance like they did in the first meeting between the teams. In the last game they played the Mavs were close in the rebounding battle, losing 51-60. Although they lost the rebounding battle they only allowed 5 offensive rebounds, which limited Boston’s second chance points and helped keep the Mavs in the game.
Fast Break Points: Last time around the Mavericks allowed the Celtics to score 22 points off of the fast break. The Mavericks only scored 8 fast break points. Boston and Dallas are neck and neck with each other in terms of pace at 24th and 25th in the NBA respectively. If Dallas can limit the Celtics fast break points and make them play with their average pace, we should see another close game.
Key Match Up
Dennis Smith Jr. vs. Kyrie Irving: In their last meeting DSJ played 27 minutes and only made 4 of 16 shots, good for 8 points. He also had 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and zero turnovers during the game. Due to his shooting woes and the game being close, Coach Carlisle chose to stick with his trusted “vets”, Yogi Ferrell and J.J. Barea to close out the game. Kyrie Irving wound up scoring 10 of his 47 total points in over time by beating up on Yogi Ferrell. Dallas needs DSJ to play like he has over the past 6 games (15.5 points on 46% from the field with 3.5 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.5 threes in 20 minutes) so that he can be on the floor if the game is close.
Kyrie had his season high in scoring against the Mavericks with 47 points. Every time the Celtics needed a bucket in the last game, and pretty much all season, Kyrie was there to serve up dagger after dagger. Irving finished with 47 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds while shooting 16 of 22 from the field, 5 of 7 from three, and 10-11 from the line, good for 73%, 71%, and 91% respectively. Those numbers are insane and MVP worthy. All Dallas can do, like every other team in the league, is try to play hard defense and pray Irving misses. The dude is having an MVP season after leaving a team with arguably the best player on the planet, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
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