Mavericks (18-8) at Celtics (17-7)
Time: 8:30 p.m. CT
Place: American Airlines Center, Dallas.
TV: FSSW, ESPN
Radio: ESPN, 103.3 FM, Univision, 1270 AM (Spanish)
About the Mavs: They are coming off one of their best wins of the season, a 120-116 decision against the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Bucks had won 18 in a row and the Mavericks were without Luka Doncic. They will be without their young superstar point guard again because of a right ankle sprain, which probably means a second consecutive start for Jalen Brunson . . . The Mavericks lost in Boston in November, 116-106, when Kristaps Porzingis had one of his worst games of the season, shooting 1-of-11 and scoring just four points. He’s scored 20 or more in three consecutive games going into this one . . . Rick Carlisle on the game: “We got to get ready for another tough game. Boston’s been waiting five days to play us. They played a real physical game last time, so it’s going to be another real challenging game.” . . . The Mavericks are second in the league in both 3-pointers attempted and made, plus they are No. 3 in scoring. They also have become a solid defensive team, ranking 15th in overall defensive ranking and 12th in points allowed.
About the Celtics: They have been idle since last Thursday, a very odd NBA scheduling quirk. They have been sitting on back-to-back losses at Indian and home against Philadelphia. They have not lost three in a row so far this season . . . They have undergone major changes since last season. They swapped out elite guards, allowing Kyrie Irving to exit in free agency and reeling in Kemba Walker to replace him . . . Walker has been nothing short of terrific for the Celtics. He’s essentially a poor man’s Doncic. He’s seven inches shorter, but averaging better than 23 points, five assists and four rebounds . . . Walker had 29 points and shot 8-of-14 from 3-point range in the Celtics’ win over the Mavericks last month . . . The Celtics also survived the loss of Al Horford and Terry Rozier, two players who were crucial to their success last season and moved on in free agency . . . Left to handle the heavy lifting with Walker are blossoming stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, along with Gordon Hayward, who, when healthy, can be a difference-maker . . . The Celtics remain one of the best defensive teams in the league, spearheaded by Flower Mound Marcus product Marcus Smart.