The Dallas Mavericks lost Wednesday night to the Boston Celtics 125-112. The Celtics came out aggressive on both sides. Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic were brilliant offensively in the first half. Doncic had 22 points in the first half and Tatum led all scorers with 23. Jaylen Brown and Spencer Dinwiddie were good sidekicks for both stars.
That’s where the similarities ended. The remaining Mavericks starters came to naught while the remaining Celtics starters showed why they are the best team in the league so far this season. At one point in the third quarter, Doncic and Dinwiddie had combined for 44, matching the 44 Tatum and Brown had combined for. Unfortunately, the remaining three starters for the Mavericks had a combined seven points, while the remaining Celtics starters were all in double digits. The Mavericks made a few runs to make it respectable in the third and fourth quarters before finally falling short. These are the things we learned.
Luka Doncic is unattended
This isn’t exactly news. He finished with 42 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. There were times when his defensive effort was a problem, but it’s just amazing how good he is. He played throughout the second half until Jason Kidd pulled the plug and conceded defeat. His midrange playing was especially special tonight.
The Celtics have made a clear decision not to double Doncic, but they also boast arguably the most impressive collection of fullbacks in the league. None of them bothered him.
The Mavericks desperately need another playmaker
The Celtics offense was an interesting contrast to the Mavericks. Every player in the starting lineup for the Celtics can dribble and shoot. The Mavericks have two starters who can claim that. Against teams that are this good, that is simply not enough.
Christian Wood needs to play more
Wood played 34 minutes tonight. He certainly had his fair share of defensive mistakes, but he was far from alone. He contributed 26 points and 12 rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting. The Mavericks ran into the post through him for large portions of the third quarter run. People, including Kidd, are constantly hammering on Doncic giving up the ball a bit, but fail to mention how unfit his teammates are to handle those touches.
Dorian Finney-Smith is a very good NBA player. He would start for every team in the league and his extra time was a steal. But he doesn’t have to start an attack. Nor Reggie Bullock, who is mired in his annual early-season slump. If the goal is to make Doncic play less offensively, the solution is to pair him with Wood.
Josh Green is the Mavericks’ best defenseman
Green has more limitations than his champions would like to admit. But he is now a legit NBA rotation player. He was the only Mavericks player to play defensively as well as the Celtics. Tim Hardaway Jr. is broken. The only explanation for his continued playing time is that the Mavericks hope to trade him by the deadline. If they don’t, Green should get more of his minutes.
Generally, “Mommy said there would be days like this.” This was a rough game. Better days are coming.
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