Celtics are in Dallas to take on the Mavericks tonight at 8:30. The Celtics are coming off an impressive win in Utah. Dallas has also had an impressive win against Utah, and a regular win against Orlando in their past two games. Dallas started the season off by losing a lot of games, but they’ve had a resurgence that goes back to early December. The Mavs have won 8 of their last 11 games, and find themselves just two games out of the playoffs.

The Celtics are going to be without a lot of people tonight

Boston has been winning despite missing a couple key players. Both Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley have been sidelined during this four game road trip. Crowder was originally drafted by the Cavs, but the next day he was traded to the Mavericks. So, Crowder will be returning back to the team he started out with, and I’m sure there is still some mutual admiration between Dallas and Crowder. If Crowder does actually return, it will be good timing because the Celtics are going to be missing Jaylen Brown and Gerald Green tonight.combined with Bradley’s absence, and Boston is go to be missing most of their SG/SF position players.

Boston’s bench is going to have to step up

With Bradley, Brown, and Green out, the Celtics are losing three important bench players as a result. Smart may be Boston’s most important bench player, and he’ll likely be starting. Brown and Bradley account for the Celtics top two SG’s, so now they’re going to have to go even deeper. And, Gerald Green has been a very reliable bench player, as of late. Green came up huge in Boston’s win against Utah, where he looked like he couldn’t miss if he tried.

There’s an outside shot that Stevens could choose to start Rozier alongside Thomas and Crowder. That would allow Smart to run the offense for the second unit. Rozier has been shooting the three ball with confidence lately, and he would likely get some open looks with the starters. Stevens has chosen to play Brown over Smart when Crowder has been healthy. That decision indicates that Stevens prefers to have Smart play the sixth man role.

Don’t call it a comeback

James Young has shown a lot of progress this season with his court awareness.considering that the entire depth chart in front of him is either starting or out with an injury, Young will get a decent amount of minutes tonight. Young has been vastly improved this season, and he is still a young player. He gets a lot of criticism from Boston fans, as he hasn’t really progressed in his first two seasons. Young is a perfect example of a player that came out of college too early.

The advantages of coming out early are he gets paid, and he’s been able to work with the Celtics staff and focus primarily on basketball. The disadvantage of coming out too early is he takes up a roster spot and needed two years to catch up to the competition. It’s not unusual for players to take several seasons to develop into an NBA caliber player. Rarely do players who are younger than 20 years old come into the league and contribute immediately. Unfortunately for players like Young, those rare players set the bar for the rest from the fans perspective.

Isaiah could have a field day (night)

The Mavericks have taken small ball to a new level lately. Essentially, they’ve been starting Dirk Nowitzki at center, and Harrison Barnes at power forward. That’s a lot of non-shot blocking for a team that aptly ranks last in the league in blocked shots. For Thomas, this is a night and day matchup when compared to going up against Utah. It will be interesting to see how Stevens attacks this lineup on both sides of the floor.

Controlling the pace and dictating the style of play

The Celtics have had a habit of playing whatever style of the play the other team chooses this season. That seems to have changed a little over the past month, and it’s resulted in a lot of wins. Dallas is ranked 29th in pace this season, so they’ll look to keep the game to half court sets. If the Celtics can push the ball up the floor every chance they get, they will find themselves getting a lot of mismatches on offense. Those mismatches will lead to quality scoring chances and trips to the free throw line.