Game Preview: Celtics at Mavericks
It's been more than a month since the Dallas Mavericks beat the Boston Celtics as part of a successful stretch.
Locked in a competitive Western Conference playoff race, the Mavericks are hoping to keep another strong stretch going by sweeping the season series over struggling Boston on Monday night.
Dallas earned one of its 10 wins in a 12-game span Feb. 9 in Boston, and will try to pick up its fifth in six contests as it faces the Celtics again. After dropping the opener to a three-game trip, the Mavericks responded with pair of wins, including a lopsided one over the second-place club in the Western Conference on Sunday.
Shawn Marion's 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting led a balanced effort in a 109-86 rout of Oklahoma City. Dallas had five players in double figures and four with at least 16 points while shooting 53.3 percent.
Dallas has shot better than 53.0 percent and hit 13 3-pointers in each of its two wins. Those victories have kept the Mavericks one-half game ahead of eighth-place Memphis in the West and 1 1/2 in front of ninth-place Phoenix.
"It's a game we needed," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We need every one, the battle that we're in."
Carlisle's club shot 45.1 percent and made 10 3-pointers in the 102-91 road victory over Boston. Dirk Nowitzki had 20 points to lead six players in double figures.
Dallas has won six of seven over the Celtics and will try to earn its third series sweep in the last four seasons. The Mavericks have also claimed three consecutive home meetings.
They appear to have a good chance at beating Boston again Monday. The Celtics have dropped four in a row and 11 of 14 after a 121-120 overtime defeat in New Orleans on Sunday.
Kris Humphries gave his club a chance to avoid a sixth consecutive road loss by making a long jumper to force overtime. Boston, though, couldn't recover after falling behind by five with 1:34 to go in the extra session.
"That's a tough one to swallow," forward Jared Sullinger said. "(Humphries) hitting that big shot to send it into overtime, we thought we could win. In the end, we came up short."
Jeff Green got the Celtics within one point with the last of his season high-tying 39 points but time ran out. Green was held to nine on 2-of-14 shooting in an 87-80 home loss to Phoenix on Friday.
"At least we played with better poise at the end of regulation and overtime," coach Brad Stevens said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win on the offensive end. Guys got a couple of stops, just not enough at the end."
Nowitzki is averaging 27.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in his last 12 home games against Boston. Marion has recorded double-doubles in each of his last three overall meetings, and had 11 points and 10 rebounds in last month's victory.