Celtics-Mavericks: Second-half slump

Celtics-Mavericks: Second-half slump
March 22, 2013, 1:15 pm
Share This Post

DALLAS — The second half of games has been a first-rate problem of late for the Boston Celtics. In their last two games, both losses, Boston's poor play in the second half ultimately sealed their fate.

Boston led Miami by as many as 17 points on Monday before succumbing to a 22-7 Heat run to end the game and with it, extend Miami's franchise-record winning streak.

A similar end result played out in New Orleans on Wednesday as the C's shot just 32.4 percent in the second half along with being out-rebounded by 18 boards in that span.

"We didn't play the right way the whole game," said C's guard Avery Bradley after the team's loss at New Orleans. "I feel like we got them going, they got their confidence."

Avoiding that will be critical for the Celtics to get a rare win on the Mavs' home floor.

The lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season prevented the C's from playing in Dallas. Prior to that, Boston has lost nine of its last 12 games in Dallas.

Improved play in the second half will certainly help the Celtics snap their current two-game losing skid. Here are some other factors to consider as keys heading into tonight's game.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: A strong start always helps, especially on the road. But it takes on even greater significance for the Celtics when facing Dallas. Boston's win over the Mavs on Dec. 12 snapped a streak of four straight losses to Dallas. In that game, the C's led 27-25 after the first quarter. In the previous four losses, Dallas led after the first in each game by an average of six points.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki. Two of the game's all-time greats, both are iconic figures of the NBA movement in which big men can not just impact but dominate games with their long-range shooting skills. With Father Time catching up to both players, there won't be too many more battles between these two future Hall of Famers.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jason Terry returns to Dallas for the first time after signing with the Celtics, and that alone should provide incentive for him to play well. But more than that, he'll try and bounce back from one of his worst games as a Celtic. In Wednesday's loss at New Orleans, Terry went scoreless while missing all five of his shot attempts. "I can't wait until the third, fourth quarter and just think I can get it going," Terry said after Wednesday's loss. "So that's my responsibility. The team is counting on me. And I told them this one's on me. I'll definitely make up for it on (tonight)."

STAT TO TRACK: The Celtics' transition defense will need to do a decent job tonight. The Mavericks average 16.9 fast-break points per game which ranks fourth in the NBA this season.