Celtics

Final: Mavericks 110, Celtics 107 – Luka Doncic heroics erase Celtics comeback

The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks went back and forth in a wild game that was often not fun to watch until the last few minutes of the game. The Celtics fell behind by 12 with 3:12 to go but they came back to take a lead. However, Luka Doncic came through with some heroics hitting two heavily contested 3-pointers in the final 15 seconds to save the Mavericks and send the Celtics below .500.

WHO: Celtics (15-15) vs. Mavericks (14-15)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: American Airlines Arena
RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub
TV: TNT

LIVE COVERAGE

Fourth quarter

  • After another rough shooting night, Kemba Walker hit back-to-back baskets to reclaim the lead
  • It feels like every time the Celtics do something good, they counteract that with a bad mistake
  • Rough stretch for the C's after giving up a rebound off a missed free throw. Jalen Brunson hit a 3 and a defensive miscue gave Luka Doncic an easy layup
  • Cue the 4th quarter collapse. More fouls, more bad offense, more of the other team getting hot
  • Suddenly the Celtics found some energy. They put together a 7-0 run behind a Kemba Walker 4-point play and Tatum 3-pointer.
  • Another Kemba Walker 3 gives him a 14 point quarter and the Celtics are within 1
  • After the game stopped for a couple of long reviews, the Celtics took a lead on a Jaylen Brown jumper to erase the entire Mavs lead and go up 1
  • Luka is too good. Two 3's with hands in his face. That's a true superstar moment.

Third quarter 

  • The Celtics came out of the half, again, sloppy. Luckily Dallas couldn't take advantage and the Celtics were able to tie the game despite giving up good looks to the Mavs.
  • Boston actually strung a couple of stops together and put together a quick 7-0 run to go up 65-60.
  • The Mavs went scoreless for more than 5 minutes and Boston's lead never got past 5
  • Boban came back in and the Boston lead dropped back down to 1. They have no idea how to handle his size
  • And just like that Boston's offense stagnates again and Dallas gets out and running.

Second quarter

  • Celtics start the 2nd with Kemba Walker and four bench players, a departure from the Jayson Tatum plus bench units Stevens has gone with most of the season
  • Aaron Nesmith continues to make hustle plays. However, he might be trying a little too hard in some possessions, including one where he passed out of a layup for a corner 3-pointer and turned it over
  • Still not much defense being played. The Celtics are getting beat off the dribble most times down the floor.
  • Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are each 5-10 from the field. Tatum has one more free throw and has 15 points to Brown's 14. Dallas has 30 points in the paint.

First quarter

  • Newly minted All-Star Jayson Tatum came out and scored 7 of Boston's first 9 points
  • Celtics attacked the under-sized Mavericks at the rim, getting Tatum and Jaylen Brown (also now an All-Star) looks right at the rim
  • Boston hit 5-for 6 on their way to a 14-9 lead at the 9:05 mark
  • The Celtics hit 1 of their next 5 shots and the lead shrunk to 1
  • The game got messy when the Celtics started trapping and the Mavericks put Boban Marjanovic into the game. The Celtics seemed scared to attack Boban.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Celtics
G: Kemba Walker
G: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Daniel Theis
C: Tristan Thompson

Mavericks

G: Luka Doncic
G: Josh Richardson

F: Tim Hardaway Jr.
PF: Dorian Finney-Smith
C: Dwight Powell

The Boston Celtics (15-15, 15-15 ATS) continue their final road trip of the first half of the season in Dallas against the Mavericks (14-15, 12-17 ATS) at 7:30 EST.

Marcus Smart (calf) and Romeo Langford (wrist) remain out for Boston. Kristaps Porzingis (back) and Maxi Kleber (ankle) are out for the Mavericks.

Pregame notes:

Brad Stevens says this is a big game for the Celtics because, right now, every game is a big game for the Celtics.

"I think every game, when you're in the midst of what we're in the midst of, is a pivotal game," he said before the game. "That's why the other day was so tough, because you have a chance to now build. You have a chance to now take two straight games and have some positive more positive than negative out of it."

Kemba Walker's knee responded well to the extended minutes on Sunday, so the Celtics will play him tonight.

"We just made the conscious decision that he’s gonna play in the first games of back-to-backs," Stevens said. "If he had felt any issues at all coming from the extended minutes in overtime the other day, then we would have been quick to (hold him out tonight and play him tomorrow vs. Atlanta). But we made that plan from the git-go and we’re going to stick with that. He feels good, which is a good thing."

According to the online sports book Betonline.ag, the Celtics are 2.5 point favorites.

Celtics vs. Mavericks spread: Celtics -2.5
Celtics vs. Mavericks over-under: 223.5 points
Celtics vs. Mavericks money line: Celtics -135, Mavericks +115

The Skinny 

The Mavericks returned from a week off due to the deep freeze in Texas winners over the Memphis Grizzlies, and will play tonight on the back half of a back-to-back without Porzingis and Kleber, who was injured on Monday. Their depth bigs Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein struggled to keep Jonas Valanciunas off the offensive glass.

That looms large with Tristan Thompson, Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III leading the league's fourth-highest offensive rebounding percentage. The Mavericks rank 26th in defensive rating (114.5) and allow opponents to shoot 46.5% from the field, further minimizing their rebounding rank (29th). Porzingis is their second-leading player in rebounding percentage.

Dallas is unlikely to pad that weakness with 7'4" Boban Marjanovic, as they didn't play him yesterday, instead turning up the pace and creating transition opportunities in a fast-paced win over Memphis. Tim Hardaway shot 7-of-11 from three in rhythm and Josh Richardson added 3-of-7. Otherwise, they only shot 43% from the field and turned the ball over 16 times uncharacteristically.

Luka Doncic is a penetration and passing force (47 AST%) that generates ample quality three-point looks his teammates only sparingly convert. The Mavs started 8-13 before responding 6-2 over their last eight. Doncic shot 2-of-4 against Jaylen Brown, 3-of-4 on Jayson Tatum and 1-of-5 with Marcus Smart covering him last season -- 1.11 points per possession in a loss.

Prediction 

The Mavericks narrowly win the minutes Doncic plays by 0.9 points per 100 possessions and lose his time off by 6.7. Hardaway and Richardson are net negatives, and Porzingis' absence takes away from their scoring. Individually, Doncic has improved defensively in 2021. The team as a whole has sunk on that end.

Only those three and Jalen Brunson could score for the Mavs on Monday, and their offensive efficiency ranks below the Pelicans'. New Orlean's offensive pressure sparked the 24-point turnaround on Sunday. Defensive pressure and adjustments helped, but Tatum still generated enough offense to force overtime. Dorian Finney-Smith (0-for-3) found some success guarding Tatum as Dallas'' other wings struggled last season.

Boston continues to avoid falling below .500 and catching Dallas on a back-to-back should help that trend continue. It won't be easy against one of the best players in the league though, so expect another close game.

Boston 125, Dallas 117 (14-11, 10-13 ATS)