The Dallas Mavericks stumble into Boston losers of three of their last four, including a 110-88 thumping Sunday in Toronto. But at 26-14, the Mavs remain second in the Western Conference and Celtics coach Doc Rivers is as high on the team as ever.
"Dallas is really good," said Rivers. "It's funny, before the season started, I actually said that, so I feel like I'm smart for a change. Talking about teams that people should watch, one of my picks was Dallas. Everybody seemed like they were sleeping on the little transactions they made over the summer. [Shawn] Marion went to them and nobody noticed. He's playing well and I think having Marian and [Jason] Kidd together has really allowed both of them to play better. That's a good basketball team."
Marion is averaging 11.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, while Kidd, at age 36, is averaging 8.9 points, 8.9 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per contest.
Asked if it was harder to prepare for a team the Celtics see only twice a year, Rivers noted it's hard to prepare for a team with Dirk Nowitzki.
"There's only one of him -- there's nobody in the league like him," Rivers said of Nowitzki. "He plays the 4 or 5, but he can go to the 3. I don't think there's ever been a player like him [in the NBA]. He's such a nightmare to match up with. Not only just the individual skill, it's what he can do with movement to help the 5 spot or the 4 spot. I don't know if I've ever seen a 5 running off of screens or double screens. I can't imagine Bill Walton coming off a pin down. It's just different."
The Celtics swept the season series last year, 2-0, with point guard Rajon Rondo averaging a triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists per game.