Commentary

What's next for Celtics, Mavs?

The slow starts don't mean much, but neither team's title odds are very promising

Updated: January 3, 2012, 4:31 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus
Paul Pierce and Dirk NowitzkiGetty Images, US PresswireThe Celtics and Mavericks have rebounded a bit from their shaky starts to the 2011-12 season.

One of the amazing things about this crazy, condensed NBA schedule is how quickly narratives can change. Remember how high we all were on the Sacramento Kings after they knocked off the Los Angeles Lakers in their opener at raucous Power Balance Pavilion? Well, the Kings promptly lost three straight and DeMarcus Cousins nearly groused himself off the team. Then, with Cousins sitting home in Sacramento, the Kings went and won a road game in New Orleans and found themselves tied for eighth in the West. Now Cousins in back with the team. All of this happened in the last week.

A few days ago, all and sundry were ready to write off the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics. After Dallas dropped a two-point game at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, the Mavs and Celtics stood 0-3. Were they too old? Had there been too much roster upheaval? Whatever the reason, it seemed clear that the teams that account for two of the NBA's last four championships were done.

Except, they weren't. This happens every season in every sport. Fans, writers, analysts, broadcasters and even the teams themselves love to draw grand conclusions from limited evidence. It's just human nature. We're constantly searching out the next big story and if we have to fictionalize one out of a handful of results, then fine -- it's all we have right now.

It shouldn't be at all surprising that things are looking rosier for the Mavericks and Celtics this morning. Dallas beat Oklahoma City handily on its home floor Monday to win for the second time in three outings, the loss coming at Minnesota against a Timberwolves team that is going to be a handful for anyone visiting the Target Center. Boston has won three straight after beating the lowly Washington Wizards at home Monday, and that came with rookie Greg Stiemsma starting at center. The winning streak coincides with Paul Pierce's return to the lineup, which probably tells you as much as you need to know about the Celtics' early struggles.

However, even as we look into why it's too early to read much into both teams' slow starts, it's worth noting that neither team's title odds look particularly promising at this point -- just as they didn't to start the season.