The Dallas Mavericks desperately need to bounce back from their letdown performance against the severely shorthanded Denver Nuggets on Sunday night if they want to avoiding heading into Thanksgiving Day on a losing streak.
Before the Mavs get to enjoy their turkey, dressing, and, if they're doing it right, the best Thanksgiving dish of all – mac and cheese, they'll start a tough three-game road trip against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
FLASHBACK: The last time the Mavs played the Celtics at TD Garden on March 13, Luka Doncic hit a big 3-pointer to tie the game at 92-all with 1:21 remaining, and then Spencer Dinwiddie hit a 3-pointer of his own with 11 seconds remaining to give the Mavs a 95-92 lead and the win.
PREVIEW: Although the Mavs' 9-7 record has them currently sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, Dallas currently has the fourth-best point differential in the West, which could bode well for how the rest of the season can go if they figure out how to maintain the big leads they're able to build.
The Celtics, who are the reigning Eastern Conference champs, are 13-4 and sit atop the conference by a half-game over the Milwaukee Bucks. They're 9-1 over their last 10 games, 6-1 at home, but they could potentially be without their MVP candidate Jayson Tatum on Wednesday, who is listed as questionable with an ankle sprain. Jaylen Brown is certainly capable of picking up the slack for Boston, though, as he's averaging a career-best 25.3 points per game this season.
Although the Mavs have their MVP candidate in Doncic ready to go for this one, they could be without Dinwiddie, who is their second-most reliable ball-handler. Dinwiddie is questionable after suffering a shoulder injury (which should've been called a foul) in the final minutes of Sunday's loss to Denver. Dallas will also likely be missing Maxi Kleber, who is listed as doubtful with a low back contusion.
Given all the questions marks around who might play or not, it's hard to peg how this one will go. Although missing Tatum would normally be a big blow to Boston's chances, the Mavs have played poorly against shorthanded teams on a handful of occasions, so nothing is a given.
Out of all the players in the league currently averaging more than 30 points per game, Doncic is the only one doing it while being on a team that's over .500. A win over the East-leading Celtics would be a good one to put near the top of his MVP resumé at season's end. Let's see how it goes.
RECORDS: Dallas Mavericks (9-7), Boston Celtics (13-4)
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WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. CT
WHERE: TD Garden (Boston, MA)
TV: ESPN, Bally Sports Southwest (BSSW)
RADIO: 97.1 The Freak, 99.1 FM Zona MX (Spanish)
ODDS: The Celtics are 4.5-point favorites over the Mavs.
NEXT UP: The Mavs will get a couple of days off after their pre-Thanksgiving matchup with the Celtics. Their next game will be on Saturday, as they take on the Toronto Raptors in the second game of this three-game road trip. The Mavs defeated the Raptors 111-110 at American Airlines Center on Nov. 4 behind Doncic's game-high 35 points.
Dallas will then finish up the road trip on Sunday, as they'll take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on a second night of a back-to-back. That will be yet another matchup that could be taken into consideration at the end of the season when MVP conversations really start to heat up.
FINAL WORD: “I think just staying consistent with it. I just think taking the open shots," said third-year man Josh Green, who scored a career-high 23 points on Sunday.
"I haven’t been shooting the best the last four games, but I was shooting reps of one every game. So one of those things where yes, they are misses, but I was happy with how they looked. So for me, it's like coming out and just continuing to shoot them. My goal was just to try and come to the game, bring energy and try to shift the game a little bit, but they went in."