Boston (31-38) at Dallas (42-25)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Dallas, TX
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Fri Mar 19, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The surging Boston Celtics look to continue their playoff push as they visit the Dallas Mavericks.

The Celtics have won eight of their last 10 games to climb within one-half game of New York and Miami for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Boston shot 50 percent from the floor and made 10-of-16 3-pointers in a 104-100 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.

“It was just a gutsy win,” Celtics coach John Carroll said afterward. “I didn’t feel as though we were playing like cornered rats. And I felt at this time in the year, I needed to see more desperation.”

Paul Pierce had 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead Boston. Mark Blount had 17 points with 15 rebounds and Chucky Atkins added 21 points and 10 assists for the Celtics.

“Somebody else on this team is going to have score besides Paul Pierce in order for us to win games,” said Atkins, who is averaging 12.8 points in 11 games with Boston. “I was just trying to take what was given to me.”

The Celtics face a tough test with back-to-back road games against Dallas and San Antonio.

The Mavericks have struggled of late, winning just three of their last eight games to fall to fifth in the Western Conference.

Dallas is coming off a 111-110 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. It marked the Mavericks second loss to the Hawks this season.

Steve Nash scored 30 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 28 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas, which dropped to 29-5 at home.

“This is such a big loss for us,” said Nowitzki. “We’re right there with everyone and trying to get home court (in the playoffs). To lose to Atlanta is inexcusable.”

The Mavericks are now in danger of losing both games in the season series to the Celtics. Boston won the previous meeting 105-103 at the FleetCenter on Dec. 17.

STANDINGS (through March 17): Celtics - 4th place, 11 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Mavericks - 3rd place (tied), 4 GB, Midwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Celtics - F Jiri Welsch, F Brandon Hunter, C Blount, G Atkins, G Pierce. Mavericks - F Josh Howard, F Antoine Walker, C Nowitzki, G Michael Finley, G Nash.

TEAM LEADERS: Celtics - Pierce, 23.1 ppg and 5.1 apg; Pierce and Blount, 6.7 rpg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 21.4 ppg; Nowitzki and Walker, 8.7 rpg; Nash, 8.3 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Celtics, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 17; Celtics, 105-103. At Boston, Pierce had 25 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Celtics. Walker scored just seven points for Dallas and missed all six 3-pointers in his first game against the Celtics since they traded him Oct. 20.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Celtics - 16-18 on the road; Mavericks - 29-5 at home.

INJURIES: Celtics - C Raef LaFrentz (knee). Mavericks - G-F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee); G Jon Stefansson (ankle); G Travis Best (Achilles’).

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