The Dallas Mavericks are 4-0 on the road to start the season, but prepare for their hardest test of the season as they face the best team in the NBA, the 7-1 Boston Celtics.
It has been an interesting season for the Dallas Mavericks so far. Despite starting the season with a 6-3 record, the Mavs have had some very confusing games, both for the good and for the bad. The loss to the New York Knicks and the nail-biter against the Orlando Magic were on the wrong side of things. Dallas needs to be ready to show up for every game. No matter the opposing record, this is still the NBA.
On the plus side, the Mavs have outplayed all three of the likely playoff opponents on their schedule, even if they are 1-2 in those games. Had they not been playing 8-on-5 in the final minutes of the Blazers and Lakers games, Dallas would be sitting at 8-1. They also managed to beat the Nuggets on the worst combined effort from Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis so far this season.
Dallas now has their first look at a playoff team from the Eastern Conference as they get the chance to play the Boston Celtics, led by Kemba Walker. Although Boston just lost Gordon Hayward, they are still one of the more dangerous teams in the league. The Celtics will get some help on offense with the return of big man, Enes Kanter, who hasn’t played since opening night.
The Mavericks will have a fully healthy team tonight as Porzingis returns from a one-game absence as part of his recovery plan this season. Dallas does not have another back-to-back on the schedule until December 3rd and 4th.
Dallas is going to have some interesting matchups in tonight’s game. With the starting lineups unknown at this time, it is unclear who either team is going to trot out, especially considering the injury in Boston.
If I were to guess, I would think the Celtics plug Marcus Smart into the starting lineup. Luka has had a few troubles with small, pesky defenders and Smart definitely checks those boxes. The other Boston starters will likely be Kemba, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and either Kanter or Daniel Theis.
Dallas will likely counter this with a smaller lineup along the lines of Delon Wright, Seth Curry, Luka, Dorian Finney-Smith and KP. We could see Maxi Kleber in place of Curry as well, but I expect it will be one of those two lineups. Wright will be in to slow down Kemba, Dorian will get the call to matchup against Tatum, which leaves Luka against Brown and Seth against Smart.
Regardless of the lineups, we should expect to see some solid play from Porzingis tonight. After getting last game off, he should be refreshed and still remembering his 28-point performance against the Knicks. Theis is a decent defender but not enough to really give Porzingis too much grief if he is on. KP should absolutely dominate when Kanter is in the game.
Even though he started last game, I wouldn’t expect to see Boban Marjanovic make it in against this team. Boban’s minutes have been very noticeably based on matchups so far this year and this is not one where the matchups make much sense. On the other hand, we could very well see J.J. Barea make an appearance again as the Celtics have several undersized guards for J.J. to exploit.
The Mavs and Celtics will take the floor at 6:30pm central time as each team tries to extend their perfect records on the home court for Boston and on the road for Dallas. The game will be nationally televised on NBATV.