With an early West coast timeslot, the Boston Celtics visited the sub .500 Dallas Mavericks (14-15). Boston would come into the game after suffering a demoralising overtime defeat at the hands of New Orleans. Boston gave up a 24-point lead and would look to rebound on the road without Marcus Smart, expected back with the team after the All-Star Break. The Mavericks would be spearheaded by the high usage and crafty Luka Doncic who is currently 3rd in the NBA in touches per game with 98 per game.
Fresh off a brutal road defeat and with just two wins from the past six games, Boston would come out of the gates quickly with Jayson Tatum reeling of 3 of his first 4 shots as Boston logged 16 quick points in just the first four minutes of the game. Kemba Walker would get into the scoring action and step into a rhythm three-pointer before the Mavericks defence could set itself.
Newly minted All-Stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown shouldered the scoring load for the C’s in the first quarter as the pair had 18 of the teams 31 points. However it was Luka Doncic’s 11 points that would pace the Mavs to 33-31 lead after one quarter.
Boston and Dallas traded baskets for most of the second quarter as the three-pointers would be let rip by the likes of Richardson, Brunson, Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. The shoot-out style of play employed by Dallas forced the C’s to try and keep pace. Rookie Payton Pritchard would lead the Celtics bench with his scoring and his blossoming 2-man game with Robert Williams has been a bright spot on the season.
Boston would match the Mavericks intensity in the second quarter as Jayson tatum turned defensive stopper, blocking two shots and snagging 3 rebounds in the first half as he and Tristan Thompson rachetted down things to give Boston a 56-55 lead at the half-time break.
Tristan Thompson picked up where he left in the third with some bruising play down low in the post over the smaller framed Dallas forward Josh Richardson. The Celtics defensive effort was encouraging to start the third, but it was scrappy as the Refs put the whistles away and both teams struggled shooting the ball from deep.
The fast paced scoring of the first half dried up and it was battle of wills to generate any offensive rhythm at all as the shots clanked off in all directions. In short, if you missed this 3rd quarter, I wouldn’t rewind it at all. In fact, this Jaylen Brown driving score for the and-one attempt is about all you need to see. Dallas outscored Boston 25 to 20 in the third as the home team took the third quarter lead, 80-76.
Brad Stevens started the third quarter with starters Jaylen and Kemba alongside Semi, Aaron and Robert. It paid off for Boston as Kemba Walker hit a stop and pop and a quick triple to give Boston a boost. Robert Williams stifled Jaylen Brunson at the other end as the Celtics regained the lead. Jaylen Brown kept himself onpace with his 26ppg season scoring output as the C’s traded buckets with Dallas.
Luka Doncic and Jaylen Brunson spearheaded a Dallas run midway through the final 8 minutes as they created some separation with the Celtics. Boston late a run after conceding an eight point lead but decided to slow the game down and thats when it unravelled for Dallas. Consecutive Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker triples brought Celtics screaming into the game late. A Jaylen Brown floating shot below the free throw line gave Boston a one point lead with 35 seconds remaining. Luka Doncic’s heroic back-to-back three-point desperation daggers, the second one left one tenth of a second to go in the game and gave the lead and win to Dallas.
The Celtics drop second consecutive game and move to 15-16 on the season. Boston now travel home for a three-game home stand and a rematch with Atlanta in a back to back starting tomorrow at 7:30pm.