From the Mavericks’ 119-110 loss to the Celtics, three takeaways

On Monday night, the Dallas Mavericks suffered a 119-110 home loss to the Boston Celtics. For Boston, Jayson Tatum scored a scorching 39 points, while Jaylen Brown added another 34. For Dallas, Luka Doncic scored 33 in the loss.

Dallas couldn’t quite steal one against one of the top teams in the league in their first game in five days, playing at home against a Boston club on a back-to-back and without Kristaps Porzingis. The Celtics scored at least eight three-pointers in the second quarter, while the Mavericks struggled in the first. Although Tim Hardaway contributed to the closeness of the game, Dallas was behind by double digits for the majority of the second half. They attempted a few fictitious rallies, but it was not to be.

Luka Doncic finished with 33/18/13, which is undoubtedly a tremendous stat line, but his route there wasn’t that effective. Josh Green had a great game, scoring 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from three and providing his typical defensive vigor, while Kyrie Irving did his bit with 23 points. Jayson Tatum, who led Boston with 39/11/5, was unabated.

First-half annoyances

Though getting there was not pretty, Luka’s final stat line appeared to be as packed as ever. When the Celtics played their tough brand of defense in Dallas, Doncic took two shots to the face from Jaylen Brown, neither of which was called. He was therefore already disliking the officiating of the game.

Doncic was becoming increasingly agitated, especially after going 0–5 from three points. It concluded, as it usually does, with Doncic getting called for a technical foul for fouling Jayson Tatum in a way that he didn’t agree with.

His play improved as the game got closer in the fourth, but the Celtics’ fatigue may have been compounded in the second game of a back-to-back if they had played a more Luka Magic-like first half. As it happened, Boston is simply too strong a squad to allow a game they may have won to slip away.

Small-scale test

Use it or lose it timeouts are a favorite tactic of Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd. (A club loses any timeouts that are not used; they can only use a maximum of four in the fourth quarter.) His “free” timeout is something he never misses. It seems that he views challenges differently.

With just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Mavs had finally battled their way down to only a seven-point deficit when Jaylen Brown took a three-pointer from the corner. Tim Hardaway Jr. brushed by Brown, making very little contact. After Hardaway committed a shooting foul and Brown hit the basket, Boston was down four points. Rewind to 11.

Would someone have overturned it? Perhaps not, but holding onto those issues in your pocket is not beneficial to you. In the worst case situation, you spare your team a vital point in a game that looked like it would get close. At the very least, it’s just another timeout you can use to rehearse.

For grabbing

Things were starting to look up early. Dallas came out and won the first quarter, which was no small feat against Boston, which has the top first-quarter point differential in the NBA (+4.8). It was the telltale sign of a team facing a back-to-back loss. They finished the frame with just 8 of 22 field goals because their shots were not falling. In the next two quarters, the Celtics’ jump shots started to find the net, quickly eliminating Dallas’ two-point lead.

But, Boston’s advantage was just 11 at the beginning of the fourth, down from 16 earlier, so it felt like a game Dallas could still win if they just went hot. In the first four and a half minutes of the quarter, they limited Boston to just six points by doing what they had to defend. But their offense, which was expected to carry them through the season without any problems, didn’t follow along. During that same period, Dallas was only able to muster five points, and that was it. Lost the opportunity. The Celtics concluded the game without much incident.

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