The Dallas Mavericks keep doing badly in third quarters. It hasn’t stopped them from going 2-1, but it possibly cost them a perfect record to start the season with, losing by an average 11 points coming out of the locker room at half time. They gave up 37 points against the Pelicans but eventually pulled through for the 109-104 win with a big fourth quarter.
But overall, this has been a promising start for the Mavs. They’re one of the best in the NBA when it comes to forcing turnovers but keeping the ball in their hands (+6.4 margin) and they’re scoring more points than anyone in the NBA, averaging 109.7 points per game. Chandler Parsons is doing well for his new team with 20.5 points on the last two wins, Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 18.7 points and Monta Ellis is leading the team with 19 a night.
Nowitzki has done very well when facing the Celtics, averaging 25.9 points over the last 10 times he’s faced them, with the Mavericks winning their last seven games in the series. The Celtics, off to a 1-1 start, haven’t won on the road against a Western Conference team in 20 months. They lost to the Houston Rockets 104-90 on Saturday, November 1. Overall, they are 4-32 in their last 36 games against Western Conference teams.
Right now, the Celtics are looking for identity and consistency. They scored 121 points in the season opener against the Nets, but were held to just 37.8% from the field, including 1-of-25 from beyond the arc in the 14-point loss to the Rockets. Rajon Rondo is averaging only 8.5 points per game so far but is averaging close to a triple double with 10 assists and 8.5 rebounds a game. Marcus Smart, as expected, has been the symbol of inconsistency. He had only two points on 0-of-7 from the field against the Rockets, following a 10-point NBA debut against the Nets.
The Celtics can’t keep up with the Mavericks in shot-vs-shot kind of game. They simply don’t have the talent and firepower to make it happen. However, defensively, something they’ve been trying to make happen for them last season on a regular basis without too much success, dealing with the creative ways the Mavericks create open shots for Ellis and Parsons is going to be the determining factor on whether or not this Western rut for the Celtics continues.
Jeff Green is currently leading the Celtics with 17 points a night, helped out by Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, scoring 13.5 points each. A bit more from guys like Evan Turner (nine points a night) and Brandon Bass (8 points per game) are is a must if they’re to somehow keep up with a better team playing at home.