Nowitzki, Mavericks Crush Shorthanded Celtics

Dirk Nowitzki takes a shot against Chris Wilcox during Monday's Celtics-Mavericks game in Dallas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Hmm… let’s see. The Celtics struggled badly with rebounds Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks. They also couldn’t move the ball offensively, find open shots or accomplish anything in the paint.

The Celtics played the Mavericks without Kevin Garnett (family matter), Brandon Bass (knee) and Rajon Rondo (two-game suspension). They lost to the Mavericks, 89-73.

For some reason, I can’t help but think the two previous paragraphs are related.

Nowitzki’s Double-Double Highlights Celtics Struggles

Without Garnett or Bass, the Celtics had few options for defending Dirk Nowitzki. Whoever Boston sent at Nowitzki, he made that defender look silly.

It didn’t matter if Nowitzki was in the low post, high post, top of the key, whatever. Nowitzki scored 21 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, including a run of 10 consecutive points in the second quarter. A particularly abusive move on Jermaine O’Neal highlighted that run.

Along with all those points came 16 rebounds and two blocks. The Mavericks out-rebounded the Celtics eight, grabbing 13 offensive rebounds to the Celtics’ five. They also out-scored the Celtics 32-18 in the paint, getting a solid nine points from reserve power forward Brandan Wright.

Wright scored an alley-oop bucket from reserve guard Jason Terry (16 points on 6-of-11 shooting) in the second, then added an emphatic dunk in the fourth. He also grabbed two offensive rebounds in the same possession, eventually kicking it out to Terry for a three-pointer that put the Mavericks up 40-26 in the second.

The Celtics showed moments of offensive consistency that led to moves in the paint, in particular a fast-break dunk by Ray Allen followed by a dribble-penetration from Paul Pierce that made it 44-34 late in the second. But overall the Celtics never looked in rhythm, throwing up crazy shots in the lanes or running anemically into defenders for easy blocks.

Pierce (20 points), Allen (15) and Avery Bradley (12) did their best, but with Bradley running the offense the Celtics lose most of the fluidity Rondo typically brings. And with so few second-chance scoring opportunities, the Celtics’ stiff, disjointed offense just meant more minutes on defense.

The Celtics didn’t lead at any point during Monday’s game. Their five-point deficit after one quarter became 10 after two and 17 after three.

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NBA Must Win Back the Fans

Collective bargaining negotiations between the NBA and NBPA are almost done. Both sides can now concentrate on reconnecting with the fans. (celticshub.com)

(also published on DigBoston.com)

NBA owners and NBA Players’ Association executive director Billy Hunter reached a tentative agreement Saturday that could end the class-action lawsuits, reform the NBPA and allow for an abbreviated, 66-game 2011-12 NBA season.

Should the players ratify, they will give up just over 6 percent of the vaunted Basketball Related Income. In return, their new collective bargaining agreement will, among other stipulations: improve qualifying offers for NCAA “starters” entering the NBA, increase the maximum salary for young players who finish their rookie contracts and re-sign with their old teams, and maintain player-controlled option years.

This new CBA would either improve on or at least maintain the current money-making possibilities available to both young players and veterans, so it’s unlikely that a workforce eager to return to work wouldn’t ratify and reform. That means the battle for the CBA is just about over.

The battle for the fans, however, has just begun.

This negotiation took far too long to reach the outcome that fans and the media knew was coming. For whatever reason, the NBA doesn’t make what the NFL or MLB does (and kudos to the MLB, by the way, for quickly and quietly reaching a new CBA). Players make too much, teams make too little, and some re-division was simply inevitable.

While both sides crawled towards the inevitable BRI re-splitting, fans were subjected to an ugly, hostile “negotiation.”

Continue reading NBA Must Win Back the Fans