Celtics

Dooling makes impact in first start for Celtics

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Dooling makes impact in first start for Celtics

BOSTON -- Keyon Dooling had started nearly 100 games over his career before joining the Boston Celtics this season.

On Wednesday night, he got his first nod with his new team. Dooling started at shooting guard in place of Ray Allen, who was battling flu-like systems, in the Celtics 89-70 win over the New Jersey Nets.

It was a transition not only to the starting lineup, but playing to the two-guard rather running the floor as the point guard like he has been doing with the Cs.

I think the adjustment for me is getting most of my minutes at the point versus starting at the two, he told CSNNE.com prior to the game. Its a totally different position -- less ball handling, less responsibilities, but more continuity stuff, so its my job. Ive got to know two positions and thats why I prepare for two positions.

Dooling played 31 minutes, scoring five points (2-for-6 FG) and chipping in one assist. After the game, he was glad the Celtics earned a W, which came from a second-half comeback. Dooling's third-quarter trey broke a 40-40 tie, and the Celtics outscored the Nets 23-7 after that point in the remainder of the quarter.

At the end of the day, we got the win, Dooling said. I didn't shoot the ball the way I wanted to, but defensively, I think, in the second half we really turned it up. Obviously MarShon Brooks had a great first half . . . he had 15 points, and I couldn't allow him to do that again in the second half. So I really wanted to focus on defense and we had a 29-12 quarter. That was the difference of the game, I think.

Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce noted Doolings experience in the lineup.

He brought energy, said Garnett. We know that hes an outside threat, obviously he can shoot threes, but his energy and his energy and his leadership is what we value here. I thought he brought more of a defensive mindset to the starting lineup versus offense, and I thought second half we got into a better flow versus first half.

Pierce would not have minded seeing Dooling taking a few more shots, but believes that will come with time.

Keyon, he fills in for Ray, a veteran presence, know-how, a guy who can knock down shots, another ball handler, he said. Its kind of unconventional that we run kind of a like a two-point guard front set. Youve got two ball handlers so you would think wed probably run a little bit more, but its just about probably implementing him more with the starting unit and him understanding because at times I thought he had opportunities offensively that he should have took, but he swung the ball. But thats just us breaking him into the starting unit and getting more comfortable with what we do out there.

For Dooling, this start was different not only because of the position he played or the teammates he shared the court with, but for the franchise he started for.

At this point in my career, I'm grateful for every second I get to play in this amazing league. he said. But when you have a historic organization like this one, it's just a whole different ball game. I can't explain it. It's just something that I have never experienced, on any level. The commitment to winning over here is second-to-none. The history of the banners that you see, everywhere you look, it's history. Even in our lockers you see former players who've worn your number. So it's just totally different in that aspect.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Get it done. No excuses.
 
That has been how the Boston Celtics have played most of this season.
 
And if there’s one Celtics player who embodies that on this team, it’s Marcus Smart.
 
The fourth-year guard has struggled all season with his shot-making, but when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter you can count on Smart to be on the floor.

THE WINNING STREAK

He has been among the many reasons Boston has won 15 in a row, which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
And Smart will be among the Celtics looking to keep it going tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
 
Most likely, Smart will make an impact with his defense, which is among the best in the NBA.

How good?
 
Smart has a defensive rating of 93.4 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is tops among all guards in the NBA, and ranks third among all players who have played in at least 10 games this season.
 
But in the 110-99 win over the Hawks, Smart knocked down a couple of 3-pointers which was a big deal considering how mightily he has struggled shooting the ball this season.
 
Smart is shooting 27.3 percent from the field as well as from 3-point range – both career lows.
 
However, he’s also averaging career highs in assists (4.5) and rebounds (5.1) this season.
 
And while he certainly doesn’t appear to be affected by the shooting struggles, he acknowledges that it is something that he can’t help but think about from time to time.
 
“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working (on shooting) all summer,” Smart said. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. But like I said, we got other guys who are playing well. My job is to get them the ball and do whatever I can, go back down the floor, play defense and get the ball again.”

In Boston’s win over Atlanta, Smart spent a good amount of time defending Marco Belinelli who had four points on 2-for-10 shooting compared to 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting when these two teams met earlier this month.
 
Coach Brad Stevens pointed to the job Smart did on Belinelli, in addition to the clutch offensive rebound he was able to snag and quickly put back up and in that gave Boston a 103-95 game with about two minutes to play.
 
“He was really good,” Stevens said.
 
The same could be said for most of the Celtics of late.
 
Kyrie Irving is coming off his most efficient game of the season, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. Jayson Tatum had a rough start, but he came on strong as well with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
 
But the backbone of Boston’s success lies in what they’re able to get done defensively.
 
So far, Boston’s defense has been as strong as we’ve seen this early, in quite some time.
 
Boston, which has a league-best defensive rating of 95.9, has length, savvy and an overall total buy-in by the players on what Brad Stevens is looking for, from them.
 
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (3-14) are coming off their most impressive victory this season, a 111-79 win over Milwaukee.  Dennis Smith Jr. has been among the more talented rookies this season. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Dallas is indeed in a transition period where longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) is gradually passing the torch to his younger teammates like Harrison Barnes (18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Smith Jr.
 
Much like the Hawks game, the Celtics must approach this game with a focus on the opponent and not their record.
 
Because the Celtics are no longer just a good team on the schedule. They are a measuring stick for most to see how they stack up against the league’s best.
 
And the Celtics understand how their success has changed how teams see them.
 
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

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