Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics
When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, January 4, 2019
Where: TD Garden, Boston
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have been riding quite the roller coaster as they navigate injuries and the pressure of high expectations. Perhaps no better example of this up-and-down campaign has been the recent play of forward Gordon Hayward, who will attempt to follow up his best game of the season with another gem when the Celtics host the Dallas Mavericks.
After being held scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting in a New Year’s Eve loss at San Antonio, Hayward erupted for a season-high 35 points while making 14-of-18 shots in Wednesday’s 115-102 win over Minnesota at home. “He’s going to make a lot of shots, because he’s got a lot due,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters of Hayward. “He was disappointed in how he shot the ball, obviously, in San Antonio, and got back in the gym this morning. You could tell he was going to play pretty well.” Hayward’s big effort helped Boston overcome the absence of point guard Kyrie Irving (eye) and the in-game departure of forward Marcus Morris (neck). The Mavericks will be trying to build off just their third road win in 19 tries – a 122-84 runaway victory at Charlotte on Wednesday – as they play the third of four straight games away from home.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS Southwest (Dallas), NBCS Boston
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (18-19): Dallas has won three of five since a six-game slide as franchise legend Dirk Nowitki begins to contribute a bit more after missing the first two months of the season following ankle surgery. The 40-year-old, who is closing in on Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, has 30 points in 40 minutes over his last four games while making 6-of-13 3-pointers and committing one turnover. He was one of nine Mavericks to score at least six points in Wednesday’s win, a group led by Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic with 18 apiece.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (22-15): Hayward admitted that his ghastly ankle injury suffered in last season’s opener is still an issue, but that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel. “Yeah, man, I think it’s slowly getting there,” Hayward told the media Wednesday. “Like I think my lateral movement, it’s so much better since the beginning of the season. But I think that’s pretty close to where it was. I think vertically I still have a little ways to go. My ankle is a little sore right now. But I think in April and May it’ll be better than it is right now.” Another struggling reserve, Terry Rozier, was given a chance to step up in the wake of Irving’s injury and he finished with 16 points, five assists and a career high-tying five steals against Minnesota.
1. PG J.J. Barea had 20 points and eight assists off the bench to lead the Mavericks to a 113-104 win over the Celtics at home earlier this season.
2. Doncic averages 19.5 points and has scored at least 17 in 10 straight contests.
3. Boston PG Marcus Smart has at least one steal in 22 straight games.