Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire
The Celtics host the Dirk-less Mavericks on Wednesday night.The Boston Celtics (11-9, 7-4 home) host the Dallas Mavericks (11-10, 4-7 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden (ESPN, 8 p.m.) Here's what to watch for:
* NO NOWITZKI, NO PROBLEM: The Celtics will catch a break as Dirk Nowitzki is sidelined while recovering from knee surgery. Boston coach Doc Rivers knows his team can't let up because of that, but he's not complaining about the situation. "I hope we don't [relax]," said Rivers. "Listen, I love the competition [and], on one end, you always like to beat whoever they are, at their best. The other end, it's not bad having guys out. So, the bottom line is, we can't worry about that part of it. I don't focus on that at all. I focus on our guys and we have to be ready to play." The Mavs have won the last four meetings between the teams, often because of Nowitzki's exploits.
* TERRY VS. OLD FRIENDS: As different as the Mavericks look this season, Celtics guard Jason Terry will have all sorts of motivation going up against his former team. Rivers said he'll still pick his brain about Dallas' tendencies. "We will interrogate him at some point... But they are different though. Without Dirk, and they have so many different pieces. They're not running a lot of the stuff that they ran with JT." For more on how Terry's feeling going up against his old squad, hop HERE.
* SYNERGY SNAPSHOT: Even without Nowitzki and Terry, the Mavericks remain a talented offensive team. Entering Tuesday's action, Dallas ranked eighth in the league averaging 0.935 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data. What's more, Dallas is fifth best in the league in transition and the likes of O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison will challenge Boston's league-worst transition defense. Mayo, nearly swapped for Ray Allen last season, ranks in the 94th percentile overall, averaging 1.085 points per play (and thriving in spot-up and isolations situations). Defensively, the Mavs are somewhat unremarkable, ranking 16th overall while allowing 0.915 points per play. Dallas is exploitable in the post, but otherwise ranks in the middle of the league in defending other top play types. As good as Mayo has been offensively, his numbers are an eyesore defensively (27th percentile, 0.929 points per play).
* HOLD THE MAYO: Rivers openly gushed about Mayo on Tuesday noting, "O.J. Mayo's playing off the charts, shooting above 50 from the 3. What's impressive with him -- they're running a lot of [isolations] and he's guarded taking 3s. That's scary when you see a guy who's guarded taking 3s and he's making over 50 percent of them. [Chris] Kaman is playing well, Vince Carter has clearly gone to the Hot Tub Time Machine -- he's playing terrific, he's dunking, he's jumping, so, [Mavs coach] Rick [Carlisle is] doing a heck of a job with that team. Having Dirk out and playing the way they play is pretty impressive."