In what has become a disturbing season-long trend, the Boston Celtics dropped a game to a team they were favored to beat, as they feel 113-104 to the Dallas Mavericks. Boston led just once, by a single point, as Dallas pulled away late in the fourth quarter. The loss dropped the Celtics back to a .500 record at 10-10.
J.J. Barea led the Mavs with 20 points, including several big buckets down the stretch in the fourth quarter as Dallas built a consistent double-digit lead. Harrison Barnes also added 20 points, while rookie Luka Doncic flashed his all-around game with 15 points and eight assists.
Veterans Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan got in on the action as well. Matthews scored 15 points and Jordan had a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Boston was led by 21 points from Jayson Tatum and 19 from Kyrie Irving. But Irving struggled to get his points, as he shot just 9-of-24 from the floor for the game.
Jaylen Brown added 16 points in one of his better performances of the season. Marcus Smart, who always plays well in Dallas, scored 19 off the bench.
But it was the Celtics defense that let them down once again. Barea and fellow veteran ballhandler Devin Harris got wherever they wanted to get themselves or their teammates easy baskets all game. Terry Rozier in particular struggled to contain either playmaker, as both got into the paint against him time and time again.
It was the second night of a back-to-back (with travel) for Boston, but that’s an easy excuse. The Celtics used to pride themselves in winning during such situations. Now, it’s hard to imagine a situation where you can be sure Boston will come out on top.
Over and over again, the Mavericks were quicker to loose balls and more aggressive for rebounds. Brad Stevens has talked a lot about toughness lately, but it was once again missing for Boston. A once-promising season has gone about as poorly as ever could have been expected at the quarter-pole of the season. Tonight in Dallas was just the latest example.