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The Read & React: Isaiah Thomas saves the day

On a random November game in the Garden, Isaiah Thomas proved his All Star status as the unofficial captain of these Celtics.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The closer (Keith Smith): Isaiah Thomas gets coffee. It's for closers. Twenty-two 4th quarter points on 4-5 from the field and 12-13 from the FT line. The Celtics turned it on when they needed to in order to get a win they had to have. But it all gets real on Friday night. Hopefully Al Horford and Jae Crowder return. The Warriors in the house for their lone visit. Kevin Durant's first game in Boston after spurning the Celtics. Friday night at 8:00 PM on ESPN is the place to be if you don't have ticket. If you're a Celtics fan: be there and be loud.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Defense! (Bobby Manning): It doesn't sound like Horford returns Friday, hopefully Crowder does, but again the formula for success for this team shined brightest in the 4th. They have to win on defense. From the late 3rd into the 4th quarter, the Celtics allowed the Mavericks to score on 16 of 19 possessions before Marcus Smart stripped Harrison Barnes on his drive. Some were due to hot shooting, others on miscues like when JJ Barea dribbled through the entire defense. Boston's better than this at getting stops and more specifically turnovers. They showed it late in the game. Maybe it takes more time for the defensive unit to come together like it did last year, perhaps the right rotations aren't in place yet. But once again we saw that the success of the offense hinges on defense turning into offense.

Speed kills (Tim MacLean): The Celtics looked pretty good in the first quarter. They got up and down the floor, forced turnovers and cleaned up the glass. But they let the Mavs dictate the pace of the game for the next 2.5 quarters. Dallas likes to play slow—they're second-to-last in the league in pace at a little over 94 possessions per game—so it would have been nice to see the Celtics keep their foot on the gas and really blow this team out. Instead, Dallas was able to set its defense every time down because Boston was no longer pushing in transition. It just made for a really slow, ugly kind of game that the Celtics don't usually play. You notice that they put the Mavs away in the backend of the fourth quarter because they started to get into their offense more quickly. It's just something to consider.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Forcing the issue (Bill Sy): The Mavs stymied the Celtics through three quarters. They packed the paint with Andrew Bogut protecting the rim and let Boston take bad shot after bad shot between the restricted area and the three point line. The Celtics settled and only went to the line eight times.

But then Isaiah Thomas in the fourth quarter happened and the shot chart turned into this.

Thomas alone had 13 trips to the stripe en route to 22 of Boston’s 33 points in the final frame. A lot has been made about Thomas being a fake All-Star last season, but it’s game like this and the loss in New Orleans that just prove that IT4 is the real deal. In random games in November when things just aren’t going right, you need someone to step up and force the issue and frankly, win games for you.

Law of averages (Jeff Clark):

Early season stats are always amusingly deceptive due to small sample sizes. Just 2 days ago the Celtics were 4th in the league in offensive rating! (YAY) But 25th in the league in defense. (BOOO)

Things are starting to even out though. As of this morning, they are just 8th on offense but up to 17th on defense. Hopefully they can keep that offense going while they focus more on their defense as the season goes on.

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