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The Read & React: next man up

Without Avery Bradley and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics closed out their road trip 3-1 with a group effort in Dallas.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There Can Be Only One (Jeff Nooney): A wise man once said “You come at the king, you best not miss.” And for the first three quarters, Yogi Ferrell took that advice literally. He scored 20 points on a nearly perfect 8/9 shooting display. He did his best Isaiah Thomas impression: hitting pull-up jumpers over big men, finishing contested layups at the rim, and blowing by defenders in transition with his quickness. It’s unsettling for Celtics fans to watch a short guy on the other team making highlight plays like that.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

However, despite his nice game, Yogi Ferrell is not Isaiah Thomas. IT continued his seemingly endless streak of great scoring games by dropping 29 points, and he dominated the fourth quarter yet again. Thomas’s unconventional assist on Olynyk’s three-pointer and his own pull-up three effectively iced the game in a matter of seconds. Then, his assist to Jae Crowder in transition put the game out of reach for good. Isaiah totaled 7 points and 5 assists in the final frame, and Yogi was held scoreless. Ferrell might be making a name for himself this season, but the King in the Fourth is here to stay.

Hometown Hero (Lachlan Marr): Marcus Smart got the start in this homecoming game of sorts for the Celtics’ guard. Smart, who grew up near Dallas, took full advantage of his starting spot opening the game with some of his most impressive shooting to date.

Smart had 17 points before the halftime break off of just 7 attempts. Yet his production dropped off in the second half as he only managed another 2 points for the rest of the game. Nonetheless Smart continued to do all the things that make him such a key component of the Celtics’ machine. Not only did he provide the defensive intensity that he’s known for but he also did a lot of the little things on the offensive end that helped the rest of the team get open and get buckets.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Smart excels at providing off-ball screens and keeping opposing defenders at bay so as his teammates can get into open scoring positions. Meanwhile Smart’s efforts and skill on the defensive side of the floor are a big part of why the Celtics so often find themselves with more scoring opportunities than their opponents.

Couple this with an efficient offensive output and Smart looks more and more like the star every Celtic fan dreams he could be. Yet Smart always seems to put in extra effort for his homecoming games, not only does he regularly perform well in Dallas but Smart also has had several good games in Oklahoma City, home to Smart’s former college.

Maybe as Smart grows to feel more at home in Boston he can consistently be the type of two-way player that he’s proven he can be when playing in front of his nearest and dearest. With the long road trip out West over and several home games on the Celtics’ future schedule maybe Smart should invest in one of these and look at it before every game, it couldn’t hurt right?

Death by mid-range (Bill Sy): The Celtics pulled away in the fourth, but the game was close for much of the first three quarters. Why? The Mavs mid-range shooting. Here’s their shot chart from last night:

Dallas was 20 for 40 between the restricted area and the three-point line, but those are the shots that Brad Stevens’ defensive scheme wants opposing teams to take. As Isaiah Thomas said afterwards, “on defense, we’re headed in the direction we want to be.” But if the Celtics weren’t on fire from behind the arc (16-for-24), this game’s a lot closer and maybe they lose. I’ve rang this bell before, but what’s troubling to me is that the teams that Boston could meet in the playoffs are all good long-2 shooters. Toronto and Washington would gladly pull up for 15-footers all night and right now, those teams are 4-2 against the Celtics. You have to pick your poison in the NBA and games like this, even if they’re won, are a reminder that come playoff time, Boston could be playing into opposing team’s hands.

Trust the process (Bill Sy): On Saturday night, James Young made the most out of his cameo in Utah with 10 points. Last night, he scored only five, but the 21-year-old had arguably a better game.

Young played the entire fourth quarter with Gerald Green under the weather, Jaylen Brown out with a hip flexor, and Avery Bradley still nursing his strained Achilles. He didn’t disappoint. Stevens complimented JY and said : "James (Young) was really good. He came right off the bench and made a lot of good plays for us. Rebounded, defended, made big shots."

For Stevens, defense will get you playing time and Young earned it on that side of the floor. He rotated on the weak side, bodied up when bigger players tried to ISO, and rebounded his position.

He’ll find his way to the end of the bench (or even as a possible throw-in in a trade) when everybody’s healthy, but it’s good to see him start putting things together and playing more confidently. I always got the sense with Young that he measured his success with his shot, but watching him last night and over the weekend, you can see that he’s matured not just in his game, but in his mindset. Surrounded by rotation players and vets, he didn’t have to think of getting his shot.

This is Marcus Smart: Whether it’s crunch time at the end of the game or just a flea flicker to close out the half, there is no chill with Marcus Smart.

Gunning for #1:

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