Matt Chin: We've seen the Celtics overcome a multitude of different obstacles during this streak. Tonight, Dallas won the turnover battle 17 to 11. The Cs were negligently careless with their execution, and Rick Carlisle's zone defense provided plenty of confusion. In the end, Boston was +4 in points off of turnovers, but the team continues to dance with fire by allowing opponents to jump out to big leads.
Al Horford made his presence known despite only attempting five shots. In the second half, Boston finally cracked the Dallas zone by letting Horford facilitate from the mid-post and elbow. Once again, he jumpstarted the offense with his ability to scan for help defenders and deliver pinpoint passes to cutters and shooters. Big Al's impact in non-scoring categories has allowed others to carve out newfound offensive roles.
Bill Sy: Between stressing about the win streak and Marcus Smart’s cold shooting, I kept thinking about how the Mavs are the perfect partner for the Celtics late in the season. Nerlens Noel has been linked to Boston even before he arrived in Dallas, and with him out of Rick Carlisle’s rotation, he’s the perfect candidate to fill the DPE. But here’s another name: Dirk Nowitzki.
Think about it. Whoever Ainge finds will most likely be a rental. Not only are the Celtics capped out next summer, but they’ll also have Marcus Smart’s restricted free agency to navigate. Unless somebody betters shakes loose, I could see Ainge placing a phone call for the 19-year vet. Things could be different come February, but right now, Boston is desperate for scoring, particularly on the high block. Outside of Marcus Morris and Al Horford, nobody can really operate at the level of the free throw line. That became abundantly clear last night when Dallas ran a simple 2-3 zone against Boston.
Would Dirk (and Mark Cuban) be willing to become a hired gun after a buyout for a late playoff push in what could be his final season and the twilight of his career? He could return to Dallas for Year 20 if he wanted to in the summer. More importantly, he’d have a chance to close out in meaningful post-season play. P.J. Brown came out of retirement in 2008 and raised a banner a few months later. Consider it, Dirk. Ask Steph. Boston is lovely in June.
Keith Smith: Jayson Tatum has made a major impact, especially when you consider he's just 19 years old. But he's done it in a somewhat curious way.
Entering tonight, Tatum was averaging 13.9 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game. Pretty good numbers for a rookie. But, did you know he does most of his damage in the second half of games? In the second half he averages 8.4 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game. Against the Mavericks, Tatum scored 15 and grabbed nine rebounds. Eight of his 15 points came late in the fourth quarter and overtime, highlighted by two alley-oop dunks and a Euro step, as the Celtics rallied. And he pulled down four of his nine rebounds in overtime—or, more accurately, he skied up high for those four rebounds.
We've all raved about Tatum's poise, which is beyond his years. But it shows up most late in games, when the very best players are at the height of their abilities. No moment to date has been too big for the Celtics’ prized rookie, and bigger moments are still to come.