Celtics-Mavericks takeaways: C’s fall to Dallas again at a pivotal moment originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics’ five-game winning streak was snapped on Sunday when they fell to the Dallas Mavericks in a thrilling 95-92 loss.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored what ended up being the game-winning 3-pointer on an assist from Luka Doncic. Jayson Tatum had a chance to send the game into overtime, but the Celtics star couldn’t get his 3-pointer to land at the buzzer.
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Marcus Smart appeared to be fouled by Doncic on a 3-point attempt with four seconds remaining. However, Dallas defied the call and it was overruled to help seal the Mavs’ victory.
It was a familiar ending for the Celtics, who lost to Dallas in a Doncic 3 at the buzzer in November.
Along with C’s winning streak, Tatum’s five-game streak of 30-plus points also came to an end. He finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds against a stifling Mavs defense. On the other hand, Doncic finished with a game-high 26 points with eight assists.
Here are three snapshot takeaways from the Celtics’ loss, which takes them to 41-28 on the season. They’ll kick off a West Coast road trip Wednesday night with a 10 p.m. ET matchup against the Golden State Warriors.
The best defenses on display
The Celtics and Mavericks entered Sunday’s action with the No. 1 and No. 6 defensive ratings in the NBA, respectively. Top-ranked units were on display as both offenses struggled significantly, particularly in the first half. The first quarter was a fight on both sides with the two teams combining for just 38 points.
It marked the first game for the Cs with fewer than 100 points scored since January 28. The Mavs scored fewer than 100 for the first time since Feb. 12.
Boston’s inability to get shots past the arc turned out to be what made the difference. While Dallas was 40.5% (15-37) from 3, the C’s were just 24.3% (9-37). Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined 13-for-39 from the field and 5-for-17 from long range.
The Celtics’ usually robust defense took their foot off the gas in the third quarter, when the Mavericks exploded with 38 points. They were unable to recover in the fourth quarter with both teams scoring just 19 points in the final frame.
Al Horford does his part
Without Al Horford, this game might as well have been a big loss for Boston. The veteran big man was their best player on both ends of the floor in what was a particularly ugly offensive performance for the team.
Amid all the talk of Smart or Robert Williams deserving Defensive Player of the Year honors, Horford showed he’s no slouch as a defender either. The 35-year-old was a thorn in the side of the Dallas team throughout the game and had six rebounds, a career-high five steals and two blocks.
Horford was also the Celtics’ most efficient offensive player on the day with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Only Tatum (21) scored more points for the C’s.
Jaylen Brown makes Kevin Garnett proud
On the day of Kevin Garnett’s jersey retirement ceremony at TD Garden, Jaylen Brown pulled “The Big Ticket” from her courtside seat.
Brown threw a monster dunk over Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber, which got Garnett excited. The Hall of Famer stood up and celebrated with Brown after the play in what became an iconic moment among Celtics greats past and present.
It wasn’t the best day for Brown, who scored 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting, but that moment with KG will no doubt be one he treasures forever.