Well, that was painful.
The Celtics came out of the gate very well, opening the game with a 7-0 run that saw buckets from Thomas, Smart, and Crowder. Boston offense looked crisp, with good ball movement, in contrast to a more stagnant Dallas offense that struggled to get good looks early.
Avery Bradley, in particular, caught fire in the early going. The tenacious guard made five of his first six shots, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the first quarter, and leading to repeated celebrations from the Boston bench and inquisitive profanity from a courtside Mark Cuban. After a very successful quarter, the C's went into the 2nd frame up 31-16.
The boys in green didn't take their foot off the gas in the opening seconds of the second, with Kelly Olynyk getting a steal on a one-man press and converting a quick layup off the turnover. However, the referees did not let the C's play quite as rigorously as they had in the first, and frequent foul calls on Boston's defensive efforts slowed the pace of the game considerably . However, good off-ball movement and a solid quarter from Jared Sullinger helped the Celtics hang onto a first half lead, and they went into intermission up, 54-45.
Within two minutes of the start of the 3rd quarter, the Dallas Mavericks had cut the lead to a single point. Dallas players were making all of their jumpshots, and the Stevens called a rapid time out to confront his players about their lack of communication defensively. While their defense got slightly better, their offense continued to sputter - an over-reliance on long jumpshots (most of which they missed) had about as good of a result as you might expect. Thankfully, the last 3 minutes of the third quarter were a little better (we finally got a foul call, and Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley hit a pair of threes), and Boston was able to carry a 78-70 lead into the final frame.
The 4th quarter was a bit of a shootout. After two straight quarters of quagmire, the first several minutes of the last period consisted of several made baskets, including solid offensive output by David Lee and Isaiah Thomas, and some deadly long-range shooting by Wesley Matthews.
The last five minutes of the game fell apart into an absolute mess, sloppy turnovers, lack of offensive movement, and settling for poor shots put the Celtics into a hole at the end of the game. They fell behind by 6 with 2 minutes left to go, but fought back valiantly in the last minute of play. A late surge by Jae Crowder brought the game to within 2 with 20 seconds left. The Celtics fouled, and managed to get the ball back down by 2. Unfortunately, IT lost the handle on the possession, and the Celtics fell to Dallas, 106-102
- Lots of players had high points tonight - an 18-point, 12-rebound performance from Sully, a 14-point return to form for David Lee, and a stretch of red-hot shooting from Bradley. However, those high points were marred by mistakes; missed layups, sloppy turnovers, and settling for out-of-rhythm shots hurt the Celtics badly tonight.
- We've found the biggest weakness of this Boston team - the referees. The Celts are at their best when they are fiery, aggressive pests on the defensive end. The abnormally high number of foul calls tonight brought them out of their intense defensive mind-space, so that they allowed the Mavs to shoot very well for the last three quarters of the game. I will add, however, that the second half saw plenty of ticky-tack fouls called against Dallas, as well. The point is this - a game with very tight refereeing, without much permitted contact, does not seem to favor Boston's play style.
- After a great article from Kevin O'Connor highlighting his statistical contributions, it was disappointing to see so little of Jonas Jerebko in tonight's game