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Mavericks at Celtics preview: Rajon Rondo returns to Boston

Dallas travels to Boston to face a struggling Celtics team, but the main story line will Rondo's return home.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

What have the Celtics done lately?

Life has not been kind to the Celtics recently. They've dropped four of their last five games, finally snapping a four-game losing streak with a decisive win over Sacramento on New Year's Eve. They're 11-18 for the season but currently just one game behind the Heat for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, that magical place where teams with losing records and negative point differentials find themselves playing into the postseason. But you probably don't care so much about what Boston has done lately as the fact that this will be Rondo's first game in Boston as anything other than a Celtic. So...

How's this trade looking for Boston?

While the Mavericks are still working out all the kinks with their latest addition, Rondo's time with the Mavericks has impressed almost everyone, as Rebecca noted in this week's power rankings. Despite some overblown concern about Dallas' offensive efficiency dropping from super human to just really, really good since Rondo's arrival, there seems to be mostly optimism when it comes to his future as a Maverick.

But what about Boston? A lot of us were sad to see Brandan Wright go, so how is he faring on his new team? Jae Crowder and Jameer Nelson have actually seen more minutes than Wright, who's logged just 51 in the five games he's played as a Celtic, but there haven't been any huge shifts in these players' stat lines over the five games they've played, though Wright's shooting has dropped to a mere 61 percent (almost no one thought the 74 pecent he shot during his time in Dallas this season was sustainable) as he's started shooting more frequently. As with Rondo in Dallas, it's hard to evaluate after so few games, especially since none of these players have been given the kind of minutes Rondo has with his new team. But Wright has languished on more than one bench in his career, despite his talent, and it'd be nice to see him eventually become an important part of a team.

But will Rondo cry in his first game back at TD Garden?

Seems like we could may get some waterworks. He told ESPN, "Hopefully I won't be too emotional, try not to cry a little bit, but I'm very excited to go back... Those fans are amazing there. If I do [tear up], hopefully the camera isn't on me too much. I'm going to try to blink a lot."

What are the match-ups to watch?

Unfortunately, given the positions of the personnel involved in this trade, the only former Maverick vs. former Celtic match-up we may see is Brandan Wright vs. Dwight Powell, but with the limited minutes these two players have been getting, even that one seems unlikely. We may have to settle for watching what happens when Wright finds himself involved defensively in a Rondo pick-and-roll.

But trade-themed match-ups aside, Boston has shown a lot of tenacity against tough teams this year, even if their record is quite poor, so while they're currently 18th in the league in offensive efficiency and 12th on defense, don't be surprised if they make the Mavericks work for this one.

GAME INFO: The game tips off at 6:30 p.m. CT and will be on Fox Sports Southwest and NBATV.