Boston Celtics (36-31) vs. Dallas Mavericks (32-36)
In some ways, Jason Terry has fit right in with Boston.
No, the Celtics are not among the elite in the East anymore (although opponents should still be wary). The season has not quite gone according to plan for Boston. The Playoffs are still going to take place for the Celtics and that is something.
Terry, rather, has fit in with his mouth and attitude. His sort of old school, don't help the opponent up attitude has fit in with a locker room that features Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. He was not afraid to tweak the Heat and LeBron James both before and after the Celtics lost to the Heat on Monday.
His mouth has been running his entire career, no reason for that to change.
Except tonight there is a reason to keep the mouth shut and give some thanks. Tonight, Terry plays his first game in Dallas since leaving the team as a free agent. Terry was an integral part to the team's championship in 2011 and seven years in Dallas, all Playoff appearances and successful seasons.
Terry established himself as one of the league's best sixth men and a dangerou scoring weapon. He always seemed to have a big shot in him at the critical moments.
Of course, Terry has reason to be upset too. Terry was not re-signed as part of Mark Cuban's plan to shed salary following the championship run. The Mavericks let Tyson Chandler go the year before and then Terry. There definitely was some frustration that this happened.
Terry never holds back. And he probably will not tonight.
Other Storylines to Watch
-Do not expect Terry to get too sentimental in his return to American Airlines Center. The guard has been around the block just like his Boston teammates and he knows what time of the year it is. Late March means it is Playoff time and he said he is going to start playing more aggressively.
-Mark Cuban recently commented that he believes Dirk Nowitzki has three more elite years left in him. Nowitzki has struggled this year to come back from offseason arthroscopic surgery and laughed the comments off a bit. Cuban though is sticking to that line. He said players like Nowitzki and Garnett are not likely to become role players even at their advanced ages.
New York Knicks (40-26) vs. Toronto Raptors (26-42)
Are you ready for an interesting stat? Carmelo Anthony has only 19 dunks this season. It seems odd. anthony is an incredibly athletic player and is actually pretty good in the post. He is also great at drawing fouls which makes you think he can get into the lane and near the basket. Maybe injuries have zapped some of that jumping ability. Or maybe Anthony hangs around the perimeter too much.
Oklahoma City Thunder (50-19) vs. Orlando Magic (18-51)
Just when it seemed like Al Harrington may be done for the season so the Magic could play their younger players, he may be pressed into duty. Nikola Vucevic will miss his second game of the season tonight with a mild concussion and the flu, forcing Jacque Vaughn to insert plucky rookie Kyle O'Quinn into the lineup. Orlando does not have many options at center aside from O'Quinn and Harrington now. And even they are undersized going up against Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.
Milwaukee Bucks (34-33) vs. Indiana Pacers (42-26)
Monta Ellis missed this morning's shootaround with an illness and could miss his first game of the season. However, Jim Boylan is confident that letting him rest throughout the day will have him ready for this game. Milwaukee needs him. His scoring bursts could be exactly what Milwaukee needs to crack Indiana's tough defense. The eighth seed seems pretty much wrapped up, but the seventh seed seems to be escaping them.
Portland Trail Blazers (32-36) vs. Atlanta Hawks (38-30)
Portland still believes it can make the Playoffs this year. But that does not mean some of their bench players cannot have some fun. Go to YouTube and try to find the newest trend of videobombing and you will see LeBron James and Chris Bosh's constant battle to steal each other's spotlight. Lesser known is Nolan Smith's penchant for getting on TV before games. I guess Smith has nothing else to do.
Detroit Pistons (23-46) vs. Miami Heat (53-14)
Who is next? The Heat continue their hit list going for their 24th straight win tonight at home against the Pistons. Remember, Detroit is a team whose own coach said this season has been difficult to get through. The same cannot be said for the Heat. Their basketball is quite enjoyable right now. If Miami does not get bored like the team appeared to be Wednesday in Cleveland . . . it coudl be a long night.
Memphis Grizzlies (46-21) vs. New Orleans Hornets (23-46)
The Grizzlies have to feel pretty good. Wednesday, the Grizzlies had an emotional win in overtime against the Thunder. Memphis got some incredible play down the stretch from Jerryd Bayless and Marc Gasol before Gasol's running hook sealed it for the win. The Grizzlies have to keep pace with the streaking Nuggets and compete for home court advantage in the first round.
Cleveland Cavaliers (22-46) vs. Houston Rockets (37-31)
Wednesday was odd for Cleveland.The fans were no longer booing LeBron James and a fan even ran onto the court with a shirt pleading James to return to the Cavaliers when he becomes a free agent in 2014. Of course, LeBron will face what-ifs from his hometown franchise and his former teammates. The Cavaliers were close despite their second-round exit in 2010. Antawn Jamison told the Washington Post he believes the Cavaliers would have won the 2011 title if James had stayed. I guess we will never know.
Utah Jazz (34-34) vs. San Antonio Spurs (52-16)
Tony Parker will be active and probably to play tonight after an extended absence with a sprained ankle. That is welcome news for the Spurs. Although they did more than keep the boat steady. Parker though has a sentimental reason for getting back tonight. Gregg Popovich has 899 wins and could very well get his 900th win tonight.
Minnesota Timberwolves (23-43) vs. Phoenix Suns (23-46)
Rick Adelman's future with Minnesota is uncertain. And it has nothing to do with his record. Adelman took a two-week absence from the team earlier in the season to be with his wife, who was suffering from seizures. During that time, he contemplated resigning to be with his family before returning to the team. It is a very real possibility that Adelman could be coaching his last season. Best of luck, Rick. Our thoughts are with you and your family as you make this decision.
Washington Wizards (24-43) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (36-33)
The Lakers appear set to shuffle their lineup once again. Antawn Jamison's hot run and Earl Clark's struggles has Mike D'Antoni pondering a move for Jamison to play more power forward and Clark to play more small forward. Really the impetus for this change is Pau Gasol's return. He is expected back from his torn plantar fascia very soon. And Kobe Bryant might be back on the floor tonight too. The Lakers are playing well but now comes the integration part again.