After an embarrassing loss to a Denver Nuggets team that was without three starters, the Dallas Mavericks will look to get back on track against one of the league’s best teams. At 13-4, the Boston Celtics own the league’s best record thanks in large part to the play of Jayson Tatum. Tatum is averaging close to 30/8/5 and has been an absolute menace on the defensive end of the ball. The team around him is deep, versatile, and capable of beating you in a variety of ways. On nights where their shots aren’t falling at a high rate, they can rely on a defense that can switch 1 through 5 and disrupt your team’s offensive flow.
The Mavs, on the other hand, are a one trick pony. Luka is going to run pick and rolls until he’s blue in the face. When he gets bored with that, he’ll try his hand in the post if he feels he has a clear advantage against his defender. If our role players hit enough shots, we can compete with just about anyone. If they struggle, well, we’ve seen they can lose to anyone on any given night and look terrible while doing so. Against Boston, the Mavericks will be facing their biggest test of the season and will be pushed to their limits on both ends of the floor.
Will either team be at full strength?
As of today, Tatum is listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain. With the league’s best record, the Celtics could decide to play it safe with their young superstar and give him a couple extra days off before the team faces off against a red-hot Sacramento Kings team on Friday.
For Dallas, they could be without Spencer Dinwiddie after he suffered a should injury against the Nuggets on Sunday. Should he miss the game, the Mavericks will be without their second-best ball handler against a team built to defend heliocentric offenses like that of the Mavericks.
What, exactly, is Jason Kidd doing?
If there is a live microphone anywhere in his vicinity, Jason Kidd won’t hesitate to utter unintelligible gibberish into it. His recent interviews have given fans cause for concern. He is either trying, and falling, to come off as a Bill Belichick type who refuses to give reporter’s a glimpse of what is actually going down in the locker room or he has no idea what he is doing. Unfortunately for he and the team, his inability to clearly communicate the reasoning behind some of his actions could marginalize Christian Wood and others in the locker room. In game, it’s clear Kidd has taken on more of a CEO role. The team has to assistant coaches that have taken on the role of coordinators on each side of the ball. Meanwhile, Kidd can often be seen staring aimlessly into the abyss as the team surrenders double digit lead after double digit lead.
With Wood in particular, does Kidd have a plan or is he trying to play mind games with arguably the team’s second most important player? Was he ever on board with bringing Wood to Dallas and, if not, is he trying to provoke Wood into the type of outburst that could lead to his departure? Either way, Kidd has to be better on and off the court.
Will Luka break a personal record for shots out of the post?
Luka is terrific at running pick and rolls until he hunts the mismatch he wants then going to work against the overmatched defender. That won’t be easy against the Celtics. At first glance, who do you imagine Luka will want bum hunt...Smart? Tatum? Brown? Horford? There simply isn’t an easy answer. The solution might be to play out of the post. Against anyone but Horford, Luka will have a physical mismatch in the paint and could choose to create looks for his teammates with his back to the basket. If the Celtics play him straight up, Luka is shooting an absurd percentage in the paint and will get his. If Boston tries to send a soft double, Luka will try to catch their defenders with their hand in the cookie jar and whip passes to open teammates. It will be interesting to see how Luka chooses to attack the most complete defense he’s seen this season.
How to watch
This one’s a national TV game, at 6:30 pm CST on ESPN