Game 21 preview: Mavericks at Celtics


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Jeff Green is averaging 16 points per game in his last five .

The main storyline for Wednesday night’s game centers around Jason Terry facing his old team, but the emergence of Jeff Green might be more interesting to Celtics fans.

Green has averaged 16 points per game over his last five contests. He’s shooting 54 percent in those games (58 percent from 3-point range). The surge follows a pair of clunkers: One point against the Magic Nov. 25, 2 points against Brooklyn Nov. 28.

Green’s emergence comes at a good time for both himself and the Celtics. It was barely 20 games into the season, but whispers about Green’s play grew into not-so-muffled shouts after those Magic and Nets performances. For a player coming off major heart surgery, Green wasn’t getting much slack. The timing is good for the Celtics because they can truly give Paul Pierce the early-season rest he deserves if Green is effective.

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The Mavericks are going through some growing pains of their own without Dirk Nowitzki, who has missed the entire season following right knee surgery. Shawn Marion has also missed the last two games. He is questionable. The Mavericks have won four straight games in the series.

Here are the details for tonight’s game:

Tip-off: 8 p.m.
Records: Celtics (11-9), Mavericks (11-10)
Broadcast info:CSNNE (Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn), ESPN, WEEI/93.7 FM (Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell)

Probable starters:

Celtics:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Jason Terry
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Brandon Bass
C: Kevin Garnett

Mavericks:
PG: Derek Fisher
SG: O.J. Mayo
SF: Dahntay Jones
PF: Brandan Wright
C: Chris Kaman

Story lines:
Defending home court: On paper, the Celtics should win this game. They’re 7-4 at home, and the Mavericks are missing their best player. But it never seems to be that easy with this group. The Celtics play to their competition whether the opponent is up or down. Can they break that trend?

What could have been: Guard O.J. Mayo and center Chris Kaman were both rumored to join the Celtics in some capacity over the past year. Mayo is the team’s leading scorer at 20.8 points per game, and Kaman is second at 14.3 points per game. Both players would have been good fits for the Celtics (especially Kaman). Mayo presents a matchup problem for the Avery Bradley-less Celtics.

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Looking ahead: If the playoffs started today the Celtics would be the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Right now they’re the fourth-best team in the Atlantic Division. What this means for the playoff race is absolutely nothing. What it means on a larger scale is that we know the Celtics are better than their record. More than 1/4 of the way through the season, when will they start to prove it?

@GlobeGaryDzen