Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks — 9 PM eastern
On the first day of the second round of March Madness, the NBA sure isn’t supplying you with a whole lot of excellent matchups to tune in to. Not that it needs to. In fact, this game is your one real option for a thrill. KG and the slumping Celtics head to Texas to take on the surging Mavs. The Celtics bring the same starpower every night: KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. And they pair that with Kendrick Perkins, a young, tenacious defender at the 5, and Rajon Rondo, one of the best playmakers and rebounding guards in the game. The Mavericks counter with one of the most intimidating starting lineups in the Association after their trade with the Wizards before the deadline. Jason Kidd, after a scorching February, has returned to Earth and is coming off an 0-5 shooting performance for zero points.
In these teams’ one previous battle this season, the Mavericks came out on top, 99-90, behind a sparkling performance from perennial all-star Dirk Nowitzki, who put up 37 points on 14-22 shooting. Garnett did not play in that game, however, and expect him to bear down on the lanky seven footer and play far superior defense compared to that of Rasheed Wallace, his replacement in the starting lineup for that game. Sure, Wallace is a great defender in his own right, but he lacks the mobility to keep up with Nowitzki who takes a large percentage of his shots from the outside. Garnett, especially when fully healthy, is more agile and can keep up with Dirk.
I predict a win for Dallas, as you always have to go with the hot hand in a square-off of teams with relatively equal talent, but expect Boston to hang tough to the very end.