Thursday NBA on TNT Preview: Boston at Dallas
by Matt Severance - 02/12/2009
The first half of the NBA season closes out tonight, with the TNT nightcap of Boston at Dallas easily the best matchup of the three games before the all-star break.
The Mavericks have opened as 2.5-point underdogs on Bodog.
Let's get to the key injury news right away: The Celtics might be Allen-free tonight. For sure reserve guard Tony Allen won't play. But the big one is that of shooting guard Ray Allen. The All-Star Allen didn't play in the second half of Boston's 89-77 win over New Orleans on Wednesday night, the Celtics' eighth straight road victory (7-1 ATS).
Ray Allen suffered a hyperextended right thumb when it got caught in Kendrick Perkins' jersey. With Tony Allen out, Ray Allen (who finished with just a point in 19 minutes) was replaced in the second half by Gabe Pruitt. Allen's hand was heavily wrapped after the game and coach Doc Rivers said to the Boston media he didn't think Allen would go tonight.
But the former Connecticut star told the Boston Globe that he will test the thumb in a pre-game workout. Remember that if he does play tonight, he can't then sit out the All-Star Game - he has to participate in at least a portion of it.
"I'm going to get out there, work out, and see how it feels," Allen said to the Globe. "I've had jammed fingers before. But I think the thumb, I wouldn't say it's jammed but it's sprained. I never really had sprained fingers, but jammed fingers. Never my thumb."
If Allen sits, that means both teams' second-leading scorers won't play tonight. The Mavericks' Jason Terry, who is their sixth man, had hand surgery this week and will be out anywhere from 3-6 weeks. And his potential replacement, Jerry Stackhouse, isn't quite ready to return yet.
With Terry, Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard, the Mavericks had the highest-scoring trio in the league (63.5 points), even better than Boston's "Big 3". That extra scoring load with Terry out probably will fall to Antoine Wright in the interim. He had 23 points in the Mavs' win over the Kings on Tuesday, and Jason Kidd also stepped up with his 12th double-double of the season.
The two teams met Jan. 25 in Boston, a 124-100 Celtics win. Boston's Eddie House went wild in that one, hitting seven three-pointers. House no doubt would see increased minutes tonight as well if Ray Allen, who had 23 points in that earlier Dallas game, sits.
"If we let Eddie House try to win the game after what happened the last game, we'd be the biggest fools going," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said to the Dallas Morning News.
Dallas has won six of seven since that loss to Boston (5-2 ATS) and 10 of its last 11 at home, including five straight. Nowitzki is averaging 28.0 points on 52.0 percent shooting during Dallas' home winning streak.
But the Mavs have dropped three straight overall to Boston, which is 5-7 ATS in the second night of a back-to-back this season.