The Boston Celtics host the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday in a spotlight game in a lengthy NBA season. While a contest between these two teams would generate a fair amount of interest, this season’s first encounter between these two teams has greater meaning to some of the participants.
Both teams share more than a random factor as these teams prepare to play. Both teams have gone through extensive offseason roster retrofitting in hopes of making another title run with their respective stars. The Mavericks currently sit with an 11-10 record while Dirk Nowitzki recovers from knee surgery, while the Celtics continue to work their way through a roster overhaul to supplement the talent surrounding Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Both Pierce and Nowitzki also share the same 1998 draft class, as the Celtics were fortunate to obtain their future star with the 10th overall pick; while former coach and general manager Don Nelson proved to be a visionary by selecting the German-born seven-footer with the pick prior.
In addition to these two automatic future Hall of Famers, there are a couple members of the Celtics roster who will approach Wednesday’s contest with greater interest than most.
Jason Terry arrived in Boston this summer after playing eight seasons with the Mavericks; winning the 2011 title as a key reserve. Although starting currently, it is as a reserve that Terry has carved out a very respectable career; winning the 2009 Sixth Man of the Year award. At present, the veteran combo guard ranks among the league’s all time leaders in three pointers attempted and made (fourth all time). Despite struggling early in his career as a starting point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, Terry ranks 63rd all time in assists, utilizing his on-ball playmaking skills not only for his own shot creation but in setting up his teammates.
Brandon Bass was once an emerging reserve power forward on the Dallas Mavericks roster, becoming a regular rotation player in his third season the league, his first with Dallas. His two seasons in Dallas resulted in 8.4 points per game average before establishing himself as a legitimate starting forward with the Orlando Magic. It is now in Boston that Brass has become a stable and consistent presence on an NBA contender.
Dahntay Jones was the Celtics’ first round draft choice in 2003; a pick that would be traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for a raw and undeveloped high school center names Kendrick Perkins. It would be Perkins that would emerge as a key cog and intimidating presence in a Celtics team that would win the 2008 NBA title.
O.J. Mayo‘s name swirled around the NBA circles last season; as the Celtics inquired about obtaining the explosive shooting guard from the Memphis Grizzlies. It would be Mayo that eventually expressed a lack of desire to play for the Celtics that led to a breakdown of negotiations. Had the trade been completed last season, the lack of scoring and athleticism ad the shooting guard position that was exploited in the conference finals against the eventual champion Miami Heat.
Rick Carlisle was a seldom-used reserve guard for the 1986 NBA champion Boston Celtics, playing as an understudy to current Celtics’ president Danny Ainge. The former college All American never was able to establish significant contributions as a player but quickly found his niche as a coach; winning 50 games and Coach of the Year award as a rookie coach in 2002.
Prior to assuming head coaching duties, Carlisle built his coaching resume with stints as an assistant with an Indiana Pacers coach that reached the NBA Finals in 2000 under another former Celtic, Larry Bird. In 2009, Carlisle took over the reigns of the Dallas Mavericks and in two seasons had his team in the NBA finals; this time defeating the favored Miami Heat in six games.
From the periphery, the contest between the Celtics and Mavericks could easily be overlooked as one of an 82-game season. For select members of both teams, and the passionate fans that follow them, the game has greater meaning; and one that is a must see event.
Scott Duhaime is a passionate fan of the Boston Celtics and avid follower of the NBA for over 30 years; witnessing five of Boston’s 17 championships. His professional career includes a solid foundation of analytics that contributes to a better appreciation of player and team contributions.
Follow Scott on Twitter: @scott_duhaime
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