Through their first three games of the new season we still don't know what to make of the 2014-15 Boston Celtics and, at this rate, we probably won't know for a while. One night they're blowing out the Brooklyn Nets, the next they can't buy a bucket against the Houston Rockets, and then they put together a remarkable comeback against the Dallas Mavericks.
Monday night's game in Dallas featured both versions of the Celtics that we've seen thus far. It began sloppy, with Boston surrendering 40 first quarter points, 20 of which came in the paint. Brad Stevens' club looked helpless defensively as the Mavs drilled three after three and executed pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll. A 21 point lead for Dallas at the end of the first signaled what kind of game it was going to be for the Celtics tonight, especially with the Mavs playing nearly flawless offense.
Or so we thought.
Despite a pretty even second quarter, the Celtics went into the halftime locker room trailing by 26.
Then it happened.
Boston came out of the break with an enormous amount of energy. The Celtics, fueled by Avery Bradley and Jeff Green, started the third quarter by going on a 23-8 run and were able to get the lead down to just 12 heading into the fourth.
From there the game was all about Marcus Smart who, in his homecoming, made huge plays on both ends of the floor. The rookie tallied multiple steals and came up with a key blocked shot on a Jameer Nelson jumper attempt as the game winded down. That, in addition to a couple of big buckets from Bradley and Jared Sullinger, was enough to pull the Celtics within three.
Boston had a beautiful opportunity to tie the game up when Bradley was fouled shooting a three. Unfortunately, the two-guard was only able to knock down two of the three attempts, putting the score at 114-113 with less than a minute remaining. A bucket and a couple of Monta Ellis free throws later and the Celtics ultimately ended up losing, 118-113.
Although they came up short, the Celtics have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about. They could have easily packed it in for the night when they trailed by as many as 31 points. Tonight was the first night in a while where the Cs exhibited an enormous amount of Celtics pride.