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Game 9: Mavericks at Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  January 11, 2012 11:03 AM

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The Celtics are 4-4, and we still don't have much of an idea of what kind of team they'll turn out to be. The defending champion Mavericks are in the same boat, having evened their record with a win over the Pistons last night. Tonight begins a brutal stretch for the Celtics in which they face the Bulls on Friday, travel to Indiana on Saturday, and face the Thunder back home on Monday. Given that gauntlet, tonight's game may be the easiest to win of the next four, and that's not saying at all that it will be easy.

Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Records: Celtics (4-4), Mavericks (5-5)
Broadcast info:ESPN, CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tom Heinsohn), WEEI 93.7 FM/850 AM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Kevin Garnett
C: Jermaine O'Neal

Mavericks:
PG: Delonte West
SG: Vince Carter
SF: Shawn Marion
PF: Dirk Nowitzki
C: Brendan Haywood

Injuries: Jason Kidd (lower back) is out for the Mavericks. Marquis Daniels was present at Celtics shootaround this morning and is questionable.

Storylines:

Pietrus might debut: Swingman Mickael Pietrus (above) should make his Celtics debut tonight, welcome news for a team that has struggled on the wing after losing Jeff Green for the season. Pietrus should provide defense and long-range shooting. If he can spell Pierce effectively, he'll be a welcome addition to the rotation.

Energy: The Celtics have been off since Friday and have no excuse to start off slowly. This should be a game in which the Celtics come out with energy and intensity. If they don't, it's a bad sign of things to come on this little four-game swing.

Blueprint?: The Mavericks were thought of as a blueprint for the Celtics after winning the title with an aging team last season, taking one superstar and a collection of really good team players and beating Miami. This season, the Mavericks are struggling as badly as the Celtics are early on. Neither team knows how this will turn out. Are the Mavericks an example to be followed or a sign that the Celtics' decay is also near?

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