The Boston Celtics were down by 31 at one point during their visit to Dallas, but managed to cut down the lead to one late in the game before the Dallas Mavericks regrouped and managed to hang on to their lead, coming away with the 118-113 victory.
Plenty of offense early on gave the Mavs a 21-point lead at the end of the first quarter. They led by 26 points at half time. This was a done deal, until their infamous third quarter problems coming back to bite and haunt them, giving up 38 points and losing it by 14, and allowing the Celtics 72 points in the second half, as the visitors went with a small lineup that allowed them to run the floor with three ball handles while Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger played as the big men.
With the Mavericks leading by three points and less than 40 seconds to go, Jeff Green was fouled by Monta Ellis while pulling up for a desperate 3-pointer, getting three shots. He made only two of them and on the next possession Monta Ellis scored a nice layup of a handoff to give the Mavs just enough distance to pull away with a win, although it was yet another one that highlighted their defensive problems and inexplicable lack of concentration coming out of the locker room in the second half.
They were led by Chandler Parsons, scoring 29 points, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Dirk Nowitzki was next with 27 points, also hitting four 3-pointers while Tyson Chandler was difficult to handle for the Celtics, at least early on, grabbing 12 rebounds (four on offense) and getting four blocks. Ellis disappointed with just 14 points, but getting the crucial layup late in the game more than made up for a bad shooting night.
The Celtics have some nice playmakers on the perimeter but nothing in the paint. They might be able to surprise some teams by going small and forcing them into a style and pace they don’t like. On the other hand, their defense is bad anyway, and even worse when players like Green have to find themselves getting backed up by Dirk Nowitzki. They allowed Dallas to shoot 53.7% from the field and 56% from beyond the arc.
Jeff Green led the Celtics with 35 points, Avery Bradley had 32. Rajon Rondo had another almost triple double, scoring 7 points to go with nine rebounds and 15 assists. He turned the ball over five times, including a unnecessary attempt to do something flashy late in the game, costing his team an opportunity to tie the game for the first time. When the player who has the most touches finds it so difficult to pose a threat on the basket himself, the Celtics will find it hard to win games against worse teams than the Mavs.
A fun game, one of the more enjoyable we’ve seen so far this season, showcasing the strengths and weaknesses of the Mavs, the more relevant of the two teams when it comes to what happens a few months from now, about the playoffs. The Celtics are a team with good coaching and an interesting to watch offensive system. What they don’t have enough of is talent and defense. Unfortunately for them, that usually makes the difference between lottery and a bit more than that.