The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks will both come into Wednesday's game in similar circumstances. Both teams are just below .500 due to a few tough games and a couple of poor performances thus far in the season. Heck, both teams even average 92.8 points per game as of before the Mavs game against the Pistons.
Because of their similar circumstances, mainly both teams' need for a win, this will be a very good game and good indicator of what both of these teams are made of. I think this will prove to be the biggest test for both teams so far in this season because they are in such a similar situation.
The Celtics come into this game after the longest rest they will see all season. They had four days off to rest, get healthier and get practice. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will have to travel to Boston after playing Detroit tonight at the Palace. Beating Detroit shouldn't be an issue for the Mavs, but the limited rest will no doubt play a factor. The Celtics should have an advantage because of their rest and the Mavericks' lack of rest.
Both of these future Hall of Famers have seen slight dips in their production so far this season. Dirk is averaging four less points and two less rebounds while Garnett is averaging two less points and two less rebounds. Most importantly though, Garnett's defense seems to have taken a hit. It is hard to judge him defensively though when he is constantly in rotations. How he defends Dirk will be a good indicator of his defensive abilities this season.
Rondo started the season out on fire with two MVP-like performances against the Knicks and the Heat. Since then, with the exception of one triple-double, his play has dropped significantly. He has failed to score twenty points ever since the first two games. Facing an aging Jason Kidd and a weaker interior defense should make it easier for Rondo to get back on track. Also, Rondo always shows up for the big games, especially after a lot of rest. Expect an aggressive and effective Rajon Rondo.
Mikael Pietrus was signed by the Celtics on Christmas Eve to the veteran's minimum. He has been recovering from knee surgery since being signed and has yet to play this season. However, he is set to play Wednesday against the Mavs after fully recovering from his knee injury and participating in practice for the past few days. Hopefully he will be able to return to the level of play he has exhibited in the past. In any case, his return will be a God-send for the Celtics, who have failed to get production from Marquis Daniels or Sasha Pavlovic.
This game could come down to the bench production of both teams. Both teams have early candidates for the Sixth Man of the Year award. Brandon Bass has played great so far this season, averaging 13 points and six rebounds all while shooting over 50 percent from the field. Jason Terry is also having a good season off the bench, averaging 14 points and four assists. The Mavericks and Celtics bench, led by Jason Terry and Brandon Bass, respectively, will play a huge role in this game.
Honestly, I don't see the Celtics losing this game after four days of rest, even if it is the defending champions they are playing. Rondo will probably have a good game and as a result, the team will play well too. It will be a defensive struggle, but the Celtics' better offensive execution will propel them to a close victory.