at Dallas Mavericks (33-15) at Boston Celtics (37-11)
Friday, February 4
8:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #49, Home Game #26
TV: ESPN, CSN-NE, FSSW-DAL
Radio: WEEI, KESN
Referees: Bob Delaney, Curtis Blair, Eric Lewis
This is the second and final meeting between these two teams. The Mavs won the first meeting in Dallas by 2 points in early November. In that game, the Celtics out played the Mavs in just about every category. The Celtics had 42 rebounds to 38 for the Mavs, 14 offensive rebounds to 4, 38 points in the paint to 32 for Dallas, just 12 turnovers for the Celtics vs 17 turnovers for the Mavs. So, what was the big difference in that game? It was free throws. The Celtics took just 7 free throws to 20 for the Mavericks.
Shaq and Perk both missed that game and Jermaine O'Neal put in one of his few appearances in the starting lineup. Reports out of Thursday's practice were that Shaq sat out and was questionable for this one. I originally had Shaq starting, but given that Perk is playing extremely well and Shaq is struggling with an Achilles problem, I changed the lineup to include Perk who may get his first start of the season in this game. Perk first targeted this game as his first back, but he surprised everyone and came back early. Maybe this game will be his first start instead of his first game.
This is the Celtics first game home after a successful road trip and hopefully they brought their focus and energy back with them from the West coast and will come out ready to play in this one. The Mavericks come into this game on a 6 game win streak. They have averaged 102.8 points per game during the win streak. But they are also playing defense as they have held opponents to 96 points during that stretch.
The Mavs are 7-3 in their last 10 games and 14-7 on the road. The Celtics are 8-2 in their last 10 games and 22-3 at home. They are a perfect 16-0 at home vs Eastern conference teams and 6-3 at home vs Western conference teams.
Against the Mavs, who have momentum and a ton of confidence right now, the Celtics must come out strong and play hard for 48 minutes. Anything less and they could find themselves swept by the Mavs this season.
at Boston Celtics (36-11) at Sacramento Kings (12-33)
Tuesday, February 1
10:00 PM ET
Regular Season Game #48, Road Game #23
TV: CSNNE, CSNCA, TheScore, NBA-LP 754/755
Radio: WEEI, KHTK
Referees: Bennett Salvatore, Eli Roe, Gary Zielinski
This is the second meeting between these two teams this season. The Celtics won the game in Boston 119-95 but the Kings didn't have their talented second year guard, Tyreke Evans in that one. The Kings have been playing very well in recent games, winning 3 of their last 4 games. All 3 wins were against playoff teams.
They play teams tough. In 28 of their games they have had a lead or were tied in the 4th quarter. It appears that they are learning how to finish in these recent wins. It would be a huge mistake to take this team for granted based on their record. The Lakers, Hornets and Blazers found that out the hard way.
The Celtics are 2-1 right now on this road trip. They are coming off a big win over the Lakers and it would be easy to have a let down against a team with a 12-33 record. But, since a win against the Lakers counts the same in the standings as a win against the Kings, losing this game undoes the good play on Sunday. The Celtics are just 2.5 games ahead of the Heat in the standings after their loss to the Suns. They have to take every game seriously if they want to have HCA throughout the playoffs.
This is a very winnable game if they come out with the focus and intensity that they did against the Lakers. But if they play like they did vs the Suns, they will end the road trip 2-2 instead of 3-1 and that would be a shame after the big win over the Lakers. Great teams bring it every night. This team is great and it's time they prove it!
at Boston Celtics (33-18) at Lakers (42-13)
10:30 PM ET
Regular Season Game #47 – Road Game #22
TV: ABC, CHCH-TV
Radio: WEEI, ESPNR, KSPN
Referees: Joey Crawford, Marat Kogut, Tom Washington When the schedules came out before the season, there were two games that every Celtic and every Laker and their fans circled. This is a rivalry that goes back before many fans were even alive. For many years, this classic rivalry was dormant while the Celtics suffered through years of mediocrity and even worse. But the 2008 finals brought the rivalry back in a big way and last year's finals took it to another level.
This game has even more meaning than most Celtics/Lakers games. After last year's loss in game 7, every Celtic has had that memory haunting him and this is their first chance to get some measure of revenge. Shaq has made no secret that he felt that he was treated wrongly by the Lakers and he signed with the Celtics with the main thought of winning another championship to keep Kobe from being one up on him. Perk felt the loss even more acutely than his teammates because he knew that if he could have played the outcome would have been different and there was nothing he could do to help his team.
This game also takes on a bit more importance when we accept the predictions that it will be the Celtics and Lakers in the finals again this year for the rubber match. Along with Perk's absence, home court could have made a difference for the Celtics in last year's finals. The Celtics realized the importance of home court and have been taking the regular season a bit more seriously this year. This gives the head to head games between the Celtics and Lakers a bit more importance than just your average regular season game.
Both teams lost to a sub-.500 team on Friday night. The Celtics were playing in back to back games on the road after traveling overnight and getting to their hotel at 4AM, along with losing an hour due to a time zone change. The Lakers were playing at home with 2 days rest. Both teams are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Celtics are 13-8 on the road while the Lakers are 18-6 at home.
Last season, the Celtics and Lakers split the series 1‐1 with each team winning on the road. Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with an average of 17.5 points and 11.5 assists to go along with 3.5 steals per game. Ray Allen netted 15.5 points per game while Kendrick Perkins added a double‐double with 10.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per game. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with an average of 19.0 points per game while Andrew Bynum averaged a double‐double with 16.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game..
After poor showings in their last 2 games. we can only hope that the Celtics come into this one focused and ready to play. Regular season games don't get much bigger than this one.