Another night, another chance for a quality road win. The Boston Celtics travel to Texas tonight to play Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
Last night’s win against the Thunder, though nice, wasn’t completely satisfying. The Celtics beat a very good team, on the road. They pummeled Oklahoma City in the first half, turned the ball over only 11 times all game, and were carried at times by the second unit. Life as a Celtics fan was, for the most part, good. But there was also the inevitable second-half near-collapse, the post-halftime meltdown that has already plagued Boston a handful of times this season. For whatever reason, the Celtics have gotten into a habit of coughing up leads. It hasn’t hurt them too much (Cleveland aside), but the C’s don’t put teams away when they have them down.
The Celtics are saying this:
Oh, we’re embarrassing you? We don’t mean to! We’re SO sorry! How would you like to come back? To make a real game out of this? Who knows, maybe we’ll even let you into overtime! Want a hug?
When they should be saying this:
[Bleep] you, you [bleeping] [bleepers]! We’re winning by [bleeping] 22 right now? Let’s make it mother[bleeping] 40! We don’t just want to [bleeping] beat you, we want to [bleeping] humiliate you! We [bleeping] want to reach into your insides and tear out your [bleeping] heart! And then spit on it!
At some point, I’d love to see the Celtics show some killer instinct. It’s nice that they’re winning, but extending leads instead of handing them over would be nice.
With that, three keys for tonight’s game.
1. Stop Brendan Haywood - He’s seven feet tall! He’s as strong as an ox! He earned a $55 million contract! He can build large buildings with his bare hands! Wait a second. This is Brendan Haywood? THE Brendan Haywood? Ha! The one who is averaging 2.8 points and 4.8 rebounds? Carry on then, Brendan. Enjoy your money, thief.
In all seriousness, the Celtics should probably give Dirk Nowitzki a lot of attention.
2. Transition points – The Celtics need to take some advice from Forrest Gump and just keep running. The Mavericks — this will shock certain Celtics fans — actually turn the ball over more frequently than Boston. Those turnovers will create fast break opportunities for Boston, which should lead to transition points. Even if the Mavs take good care of the ball for a change, the Celtics should look to run at any opportunity. The thought of Jason Kidd defending Rajon Rondo in the full court makes me giddy. Plus, the Mavericks are playing stingy defense so far, giving up just 97.4 points per 100 possessions. The Celtics should push the pace to find any easy looks they can get.
3. Bench Mob – When the C’s bench gets going, it changes games. Just look at last night. Nate Robinson (finally) wasn’t terrible, Glen Davis kept doing his thing, Semih Erden had the best game of his young career, Marquis Daniels provided some solid minutes, and Jermaine O’Neal actually grabbed a rebound (!). In fact, he grabbed nine of them! When the Celtics get that many contributions from the bench, they’ll be almost impossible to beat. Even on the road. Even against good teams. So be a mob, bench. Help win games.