The Mavericks (2-7) will be fighting to get their season back on track with a win over the Celtics (5-5) on Wednesday night in Boston. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Mavs. While we have seen some promising signs, they just haven’t amounted to wins.
The Celtics have been somewhat underwhelming so far this season. Many people predicted they would likely finish in the top two or three in the East, but they’re instead sitting at just eighth in the conference standings. After falling to the Pelicans on Monday night, they’ll be determined to put that one behind them with a win against the Mavs.
Both teams are looking like they will be without key players and will have to look to their respective benches to fill the void. The Celtics could be without their big free agency signing Al Horford (concussion) and also former Maverick Jae Crowder (ankle). The Mavericks could still see Dirk Nowitzki (achilles) on the sideline, as well as Deron Williams (calf), but they will both be game-time decisions.
Here are a few things the Mavericks need to do to get that third win.
Try to slow down Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas is the Celtics’ leading scorer for the season, averaging just under 27 points per game, and unfortunately plays the position the Mavs struggle hardest to defend . With Deron Williams still nursing a left calf injury, J.J Barea will likely get the starting gig and have the tough task of slowing down Thomas.
This will be a particularly tall order because Thomas’ contributions aren’t limited to scoring. He’s also dishing out a solid 6.6 assists per game as part of an unselfish team that plays for each other and moves the ball well. It’s going to take a team effort to handle the Celtics’ offensive, but if the Mavs can limit Isaiah’s looks, they’ll be giving themselves the best chance possible.
Keep them off the 3-point line
The 3-point shot has not been kind to the Mavericks on either end of the floor this season, but defense has been particularly bad. The team is currently ranked dead last in 3-point defense, allowing their opponents to shoot better than 40 percent. Cue the Celtics, who are ranked sixth in 3-point shots made with 10.8 per game and eighth in 3-point efficiency at 36.1 percent/ This could turn ugly if the Mavs can’t focus on running them off the line and forcing them to take tougher inside shots.
Control the tempo
The Mavericks look their best on offense when they are able to slow it down and look for good shots to open up rather than tossing up bad shots (the Mavericks are fourth in the league in 3-point attempts but just 28th in accuracy) or leaving Bogut stranded in the high post, looking for help that never arrives.
They will also have to rely heavily on the success that Harrison Barnes has had in isolation play. Barnes is currently leading the league in field goals made when going 1-on-1. He already leads the team in field goal attempts with just over 17 per game, but with the exception of Andrew Bogut, the Mavericks’ shot attempts are distributed a little more evenly among their starters than several other teams’. Recognizing Barnes’ ascension and giving him a few more attempts per game could help put the team over the edge if the game is close.
How to watch
Those in the DFW area can catch the game on Fox Sports Southwest through cable and various streaming services. Otherwise, the game is available on NBA League Pass. Game tips off at 6:30PM Central.