At Dallas 11/24: This Is Officially Frustrating

FINAL

Dallas (9-9): 113- Boston (10-10): 104

Top Performers:

Boston:

Jayson Tatum: 21 PTS 4 REB 3 AST 2 STL 1 BLK

Kyrie Irving: 19 PTS 5 REB 6 AST 2 STL 1 BLK

Marcus Smart: 19 PTS 2 REB 2 AST 1 STL

Dallas:  

J.J. Barea: 20 PTS 3 REB 8 AST 2 STL

Harrison Barnes: 20 PTS 3 REB 3 AST 1 STL/BLK

DeAndre Jordan: 14 PTS 13 REB 3 AST 1 STL

Recap

Coming off of their win big in Atlanta on Friday the Celtics looked to build upon this effort with another win. A lot of the hype with this Dallas team is quartered on the shoulders of rookie euro-sensation Luka Doncic. He started out the game as advertised, hitting 3 threes, one of which was off of a great shot fake to shake Kyrie Irving. He’s so creative with the ball in his hands and it was fun to watch as he even tallied 8 assists in the game. The Mavericks started out on fire as they hit their first 7 3s of the game. The Celtics weren’t helping their cause either as there were so many open looks for Dallas. In the first for Boston it was all about Tatum. He hit some tough shots and went 4-5 en route to 10 first quarter points.

Marcus Smart also joined the fun as he hit a couple of threes off the bench to give an otherwise struggling offense, some life. The Celtics trailed 32-26 heading into the second and it was a concerning quarter for their defense, which did not get better as the game went on.

In the second, the defense continued to lack as it was clear the Mavs were playing with much more energy and purpose. On defense, the Celtics had to work for everything they got and it was the exact opposite for the Mavericks. J.J. Barea played 9 minutes in the quarter and had 9 points, most of which came off of subpar defense. They gave up 10 threes in the half and the resistance from outside was minimal. They were lucky Dallas didn’t hit 10 more with how they were defending. This all led to another 27 points for the Mavericks in the quarter and a 59-56 halftime lead. For as poorly as the Celtics looked on defense, their hot shooting (22-42 and 8-17 from 3) kept them within reach.

In the third things got a littlie chippy as Doncic and Jaylen Brown got tangled up. There was a lot of chit chat between the two teams and it boiled over a little bit. The refs got things under control and we played on. It was an ugly third as Boston and Dallas shot a combined 19-45 from the floor. The Mavericks specifically went 8-21 and still managed to put up 28 points in the quarter. Every time it seemed like the Celtics would get close, the Mavericks would hit a few shots and stretch the lead. Going into the fourth it was 87-82 and if the Celtics could just put one great quarter together, they would win.

Spoiler: they didn’t put a great quarter together; it was probably their worst one of the night. They started out 2-9 from the field as the Mavericks started out the quarter on a 19-8 run and stretched the lead to 106-90 with 4 minutes left. Even more alarming, the players that comprised that run for Dallas are not who you would expect. 7 points for Barea, 5 points for Devin Harris, 3 for Wesley Matthews, 2 for Kleber/Brunson. Bench players and fringe starters are who put the Celtics in a hole that they could not dig themselves out of. Amid all of the frustration recently, this hits home the most. The Celtics weren’t able to recover and finished with a 113-104 loss. If you can’t even stop bench players in the fourth, then who can you stop? There is no heart from this team and I honestly question their makeup after a performance like this. It’s like they take one step forward and then immediately 10 steps backwards.

Takeaways

  • I said it after the Atlanta game, that they haven’t played 48 good minutes of basketball and that they can’t continue to have quarters of lackluster play. Competent NBA teams will kill lazy defense and the Mavericks did just that.
  • Speaking of horrendous defense, 4 out of their last 6 games the Celtics have given up 110+ points. Poor switches, lackadaisical effort, and honestly, low effort on the defensive end has killed the Celtics. Whenever they start to get something going on offense, their defense promptly begins to stink.
  • As a bench the Celtics got outscored 40-27 by the Mavericks. A huge part of this Celitc team is the so-called depth they have. Starter level bench players and rotation level bench warmers. Baynes and Rozier going a combined 2-10 from the field isn’t the answer (This takeaway would look a lot worse if Smart didn’t have 19 points). Letting J.J. Barea go 9-16 from the field and single-handedly winning the game isn’t the answer either.
  • Kyrie Irving had a tough night. 9-24 from the floor and 0-5 from three on top of 5 turnovers. He forced some tough shots down the stretch early in the shot clock and I’d rather he move it around if he’s in a funk rather than continuing to jack difficult shots up.
  • This team looks really frustrated with everything that’s going on. You can see it in how they play and when it boils over. Smart got a technical late last night (after pushing Maxi Kleber) and when watching the replay, it was unnecessary. It’s all just pent up frustration and instead of taking it out on the court, they’re letting their emotions get the best of them.
  • The combo of DeAndre Jordan/Luke Doncic is a fun one down in Dallas. It’s like lob city 2.0 and Doncic is a maestro off of the pick and roll. They repeatedly put the Celtics in tough situations and opened up some shots by having Jordan rim running while Doncic handled the ball.
  • Check out some of the postgame chatter from the team. I think it’s spot on as it’s been clear so far that teams do not fear them. They’re a team that let’s you back into games and falls asleep for quarters at a time. Who is going to fear that?

Player of the Game:  J.J Barea

 Barea gave the Celtics nightmares all night long and even saved some of his best for last. While he has solid all game long, his real value shined in crunch time as over and over again he’d hit difficult shots to stretch the Dallas lead. All night long he was fearless going at everybody on the Celtics. His ability to hit shots spearheaded the 19-8 Dallas run that eventually sunk the Celtics. He’s always been the type of player to be a thorn in the opponent’s side and he showed that tonight. He was the X-Factor and his contributions are what pushed Dallas over the top en route to a big win.

 Whats Next?

The Celtics are back at it on Monday 11/26 for a showdown in the Bayou versus Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans (10-10) at 8:00 pm ET.

-Chuck

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