After a disappointing loss in Sacramento, followed up by a remarkable comeback win in Portland and then a comprehensive buzzer-to-buzzer victory at Utah, the Celtics were looking to end their road trip on a high note with another road win in Dallas.
Jae Crowder was back in the starting lineup, but the Celtics remained undermanned with Avery’s continued absence and Jaylen Brown nursing his recent injury. Nonetheless Boston continued their strong play and good form with a solid opening quarter.
Marcus Smart, who apparently organised 50 tickets for friends and family, had a fantastic start to this homecoming game as he seemingly scored at will in the opening minutes. Isaiah also opened the game with an impressive offensive display. The Little Guy cleaned up from deep and took advantage of the Dallas defense leaving him wide open on several opportunities—like in this dead-on shot from the top of the arc.
IT is lighting it up from deep in the first quarter! pic.twitter.com/V0TU1Z3q9H— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 14, 2017
Most of the Mavericks’ offense early on was generated by Dallas stalwart Dirk Nowitzki and the NBA’s current Horatio Alger-style success story Yogi Ferrell, as both players shot efficiently in the opening frame.
At the end of the first both teams had managed to put up a few points in a back-and-forth contest in which the Celtics held a slight edge leading at the break 30-28. Isaiah finished the first with 13 points while Smart had 11, and for the Mavs both Ferrell and Nowitzki ended the quarter with 9.
The Celtics increased their lead in the second quarter with help from some instant offense provided by Gerald Green. Green has been a sensational microwave scorer from the bench during this recent road trip, and he also provided this nice heads-up play at the second quarter’s halfway mark.
Gerald Green lobs one up for Horford who finishes at the rim! pic.twitter.com/avlakwzrHr— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 14, 2017
Along with Gerald Green’s efficient outing, Smart and Thomas continued to find easy scoring opportunities and made the most of them. Smart would finish the half with 17 points off of some extremely efficient shooting, hitting 6 of 7 from the field including 3 three-pointers. Isaiah led all scorers with 18 points in the half and more than a few nifty plays like this one.
Blink and you'll miss this IT bucket pic.twitter.com/phvjTAO6VQ— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 14, 2017
After some fast and furious play in the final seconds of the half, which saw Deron Williams ejected after receiving two technical fouls in a row, the Celtics went to the locker room having built a double-digit lead with the scores at 61-50.
The third quarter saw the Dallas Mavericks attempt to chip away at the Celtics’ lead. Without Williams on the court, the Mavs’ deferred to new recruit Ferrell, and the Celtics’ struggled to contain the former D-Leaguer.
Despite seeing some success the Mavericks couldn’t take control of the game, as they struggled to keep control of themselves. The young roster argued emphatically with almost every foul call, but rather than aiding their cause this strategy seemed to upset their rhythm.
The result was plays like this nice read from IT that allowed the Celtics to bolster their lead.
Thomas forces the bad pass, Crowder swoops in for the steal and then finishes the and-one layup on the break! pic.twitter.com/qDJ51Fkt0H— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 14, 2017
As the quarter continued the teams went bucket for bucket for most of the third, and the play slowed down. Unfortunately the slower pace favoured the Mavericks and allowed them to work their way back into the game.
Some sloppy turnovers coupled with some questionable calls allowed the Mavericks enough opportunities to close out the quarter competitively. Heading into the final frame the Celtics held only a 1-point lead with the scores at 83-82.
The Celtics seemed eager to bolster the tempo of the game to open the final frame. Yet instead of taking control of the game’s pace, the Celtics seemed somewhat discombobulated as they turned over the ball and struggled to score. A full two minutes of play would go by with neither team scoring a bucket until the deadlock was finally broken by a fastbreak IT layup courtesy of a long-range pass from Marcus Smart.
What a dime by Marcus Smart! pic.twitter.com/oRZTsvoq1m— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 14, 2017
The game looked like it would stay close down the stretch, but while both teams found opportunities to score Boston were able to finish more consistently. The Celtics continued to prove their rep as the clutchiest team in the league with another game that saw them take control in the final minutes.
Several players stepped up in the final frame, including Crowder, who had been pretty average up until the fourth quarter. Olynyk played a pretty great game overall, and Al Horford continued to be the team’s most consistent quiet achiever. James Young also continued his surprisingly strong form on the road.
Marcus Smart was obviously eager to impress, as he finished the game with 19 points, while Isaiah Thomas poured in 29 points along with 8 assists without seeming to break a sweat.
In the end, the strong all-around effort from the Celtics saw them close out their road trip with another convincing win. Now the team prepares to head back to Boston for a couple more games before the All-Star break.