1/18 Game Preview: Celtics at Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle rested plenty of his starters the last two times his club played in the second half of back-to-back contests. That probably won't happen this time since most of his stars got plenty of rest in a blowout loss in the first game.
The Mavericks figure to be at full strength as they look to bounce back Monday night by defeating the visiting Boston Celtics for the seventh straight meeting.
Carlisle rested starters Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews and Zaza Pachulia in a 100-91 victory at New Orleans on Jan. 6 the night after a double-overtime win over Sacramento. The coach did one better when he sat those four along with Chandler Parsons in Wednesday's 108-89 defeat at Oklahoma City one night after losing in overtime to Cleveland.
On both occasions, he cited the heavy minutes logged by the starters in the first game. That won't be the case this time since Parsons' 28 minutes were the most on the team in Sunday's 112-83 loss at San Antonio. Carlisle wasn't even around for the end since he was ejected 43 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Mavericks (23-19) actually led by two after one before things quickly fell apart.
"We've just got to play better," he told the club's official website. "I loved our first quarter. Second quarter, we had some mistakes that really took the air out of the game. We had a chance to recover, and we didn't." Dallas has lost four of six overall and is 2-5 at home against Eastern Conference foes.
The Mavericks have taken the last five home meetings with the Celtics, and won 106-102 at Boston on Nov. 18 to extend their overall run in the series. Nowitzki scored 23 and Matthews added 18 as Dallas rallied from an 18-point deficit.
Isaiah Thomas was relatively held in check that night with his team-high 19 points. He is averaging 29.6 points in his last five games, with a 32-point effort in Saturday's 119-117 victory at Washington. Thomas is among the NBA's leaders with 11.5 drives per game.
"He's just going," coach Brad Stevens said. "He's got a nice rhythm. We've got guys that are looking for him. He's playing on and off the ball, which I think is good."
Boston (22-19) is averaging 113.0 points in a three-game win streak coinciding with Jared Sullinger replacing Kelly Olynyk in the starting lineup at center. Jae Crowder is averaging 21.3 points in this run and Olynyk has provided a spark at 14.3.
"We've got a lot of guys that are really contributing and it's been good to get these last three," Stevens said.
Crowder will play at Dallas for the first time since he was traded by the Mavericks to the Celtics in the Rajon Rondo deal on Dec. 18, 2014. Second-year guard Marcus Smart, who has 23 points in his last two games, grew up not far from the city in Flower Mound, Texas.
The Mavs struggled on offense in a 1-2 trip, averaging 85.0 points on 37.9 percent shooting. They shot a season-low 35.8 percent Sunday.
Matthews was the only starter to score in double digits with 12 points. Nowitzki, Parsons and Pachulia combined for 14 points on 5-of-24 shooting.