Game Preview: Celtics at Mavericks

Game Preview: Celtics at Mavericks

About the only thing getting in the Dallas Mavericks' way at the moment is halftime.

Strong first halves followed by third-quarter letdowns have made things more interesting in their first three games and denied them a perfect start, a trend they'll try to correct Monday night when the Boston Celtics attempt to win in a Western Conference arena for the first time in more than 20 months.

The Mavericks (2-1) have been outscored by a total of 33 points in the third quarter after scoring 62.7 points per first half and leading by an average of 15.7 points at the break.

They led 66-52 at the half Saturday in New Orleans, blew the lead after being outscored 37-20 in the third and came back in the final 12 minutes to win 109-104.

"We've definitely got to solve some of the issues we've had in the third quarter," said Dirk Nowitzki, who has won his last seven games against the Celtics and averaged 25.9 points in his last 10 in the series. "I guess it's normal for humans to relax a little bit when they have a lead, so we've got to address that."

They've otherwise been fairly disciplined with 10.3 turnovers per game while forcing 16.7 on the defensive end.

Chandler Parsons had five points on 2-of-10 shooting in Dallas' season-opening loss but is averaging 20.5 in the team's consecutive wins.

"You know, I want to be involved and I'm a playmaker," Parsons told the team's official website. "I make the game easier for others, and I try to get to the basket or get to the free-throw line early. I'm never going to force shots. ... But it's huge for me to get off to a good start and get to the basket."

The Mavericks have won eight of nine in the series, including the last four played in Dallas. That's not surprising given that the Celtics (1-1) haven't managed a road win against the West since Feb. 25, 2013, for a franchise-worst 21 straight losses after falling 104-90 in Houston on Saturday.

It's the NBA's longest active losing streak against an opposing conference and is tied for the 10th-longest all time. They fell to 4-32 in their last 36 games overall against the West.

"(Coach Brad Stevens) always tells us, 'The best teams are always the ones who fight through adversity,'" guard Avery Bradley told the team's official website.

After an impressive offensive start in Wednesday's 121-105 home win over Brooklyn, the Celtics thudded back to Earth by shooting 37.8 percent with a 1-for-25 mark from 3-point range for their worst outside shooting game ever with more than 10 attempts.

Boston trailed by 19 at halftime.

"I thought they played really aggressive out of the gate, probably more aggressive than we did on both ends of the court, especially the first nine minutes or so," Stevens said. "I don't think we ever really caught up to that."

Rajon Rondo was held to four points on 2 of 9 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Sixth overall draft choice Marcus Smart went 0 for 7 from the floor and is averaging 6.0 points on 21.4 percent shooting in his first two NBA games.

"One of the things he's gonna need to do is grow through the pains and grow through the good times," Stevens told the Celtics' official Twitter feed. "I'm not losing sleep over him."


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