You want to watch a game that features some of the best scorers of all timel in one place? No need to wait for All Star Weekend. Just tune in to tonight's Mavericks-Celtics game. ESPN Dallas notes that five of the top seven active scoring leaders will all be on the court at the same time tonight.
1. Kobe Bryant - 28,192
2. Kevin Garnett - 23,426
3. Dirk Nowitzki - 22,981
4. Ray Allen - 22,429
5. Tim Duncan - 21,781
6. Paul Pierce - 21,486
7. Vince Carter - 20,611
KG is 23rd on the All-Time list, Dirk is 28th, Ray is 29th, Pierce is 35th, and Carter is 39th. Dirk and Paul are the only two do it with one team. Pierce is currently third on the Celtics list, but he may pass Larry Bird this season (John Havlicek is first). Dirk is the Mavs leading scorer by far.
The Mavericks and Celtics, meanwhile, are two teams who came into the season on the fringes of the "contender" category, but are currently struggling. Say what you want about the Mavs being champions last year, we all know they walked into last season in the same place they enter this one: old and with questions about whether they can make it past these younger, hungry, talented teams. The same goes for the Celtics, who have also completely re-vamped their bench, adding to their struggles as the team tries to sort itself out.
Could this still be an actual Finals preview? Sure, it's possible. The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, may have a very loud say in preventing half of that matchup. And the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trailblazers will be almost as vehement in preventing the other half. But the fact remains that (a) this is a screwy, unpredictable season, (b) we don't know what injuries or other extenuating circumstances may await the other more likely Finals participants and (c) both these teams have, as evidenced not only by the points scored by by the rings on all most of these guys' fingers, a ton of experience that could allow them to defy age and the odds (again).
Write either of these teams off at your own peril. Early season struggles mean nothing. Sure, the other teams I mentioned are younger, faster, and stronger. But these players are no slouches themselves. And they always, still, find a way to get the job done. So don't just watch tonight's game as a quirk of history on display in one place. Watch it as a younger warrior watches his sensei who, despite lacking the same speed and reflexes as he once had, still possesses a knowledge and feel for the craft that can only be acquired through time and battle. Yes, at some point all masters must be defeated... but I'll never bet against them until I see it happen.
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