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Sunday, December 12, 2010
Streaking in Boston and Dallas

By ESPN Stats & Info

It was an easy night for the Boston Celtics and a tough one for the Dallas Mavericks, but in the end, both kept their lengthy win streaks alive.

The Celtics won their 10th straight and set a team record for fewest points allowed in a road game. They’re the third NBA team with a double-digit win streak this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time three different teams had double-digit winning streaks before Christmas was in the 1997-98 season.

This is the second straight season that the Charlotte Bobcats have had an ignominious defeat at Boston’s hands. On Oct. 28, 2009, they lost to the Celtics 92-59. That game set the mark for the fewest points in a game in team history since the shot-clock era began. Saturday’s effort was tied for second-worst.

Charlotte has been totally vexed by Boston in the past five meetings between the teams. After scoring 109 points in a loss to the Celtics on April 1, 2009, it has scored 90 points or fewer in the past four matchups.

In those four games against the Celtics, Charlotte is shooting 35 percent from the field and is 3-for-its-past-41 from 3-point range. One culprit from in close is Gerald Wallace, who has missed 30 of 39 shots against Boston in the past two seasons, including 13 of 15 on Saturday.

During their 10-game win streak, the Celtics have outscored their opponents by better than 14 points per game and shot nearly 52 percent from the field. Opponents are shooting only 41 percent against them.

Over in Dallas, the Mavericks thought they were in for a walk in the park against the Utah Jazz after jumping out to a 29-4 lead thanks to a 17-0 run. The Jazz fought back and actually tied the game in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Mavericks did hold on and extended their winning streak to 12 games.

One reason the Mavs relinquished their huge lead was a dreadful day from their bench. If you simply look at points, the Mavericks' bench was outscored by only three (33-30). However, a better gauge is the plus/minus rating (similar to what the NHL uses), which denotes the team's net points while a given player is on the court.

Going by that formula, the Mavericks' combined bench plus/minus was minus-56, compared to plus-47 by the Jazz bench (a difference of 103). While the huge bench discrepancy allowed the Jazz back in the game, the plus/minus comparison of the starters shows what ultimately sealed their fate. The Mavericks' starters were plus-86 while the Jazz starters were minus-77 (a difference of 163).

It's no surprise that the starter who led the charge for Dallas was Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 31 points and 15 rebounds. The 15 rebounds are a season high, as he earned his fifth double-double of the season.

According to Elias, the Mavericks (19-4) are off to their best start since 2002-03 and the second-best in team history. They also improved their franchise record to 1,226–1,225. That marks the first time that Dallas has had a record above .500 since the Mavs won their first NBA game, 103–92, over the San Antonio Spurs in 1980. Dallas then lost 27 of its next 29 games, finished its inaugural season with a 15–67 mark and spent three decades trying to regain a winning record.

In the interim, the Mavericks fell as many as 332 games below the .500 mark, with a record of 614–946 following a loss at Portland in January 2000. But since then, Dallas has the second-best record in the NBA (612–279, .687), behind only the Spurs (621–267, .699). Ironically, San Antonio is the only team that currently has a better record than Dallas this season.