Five takeaways from C's win over Mavs: Backcourt comes up big
Five takeaways from Celtics’ win over Mavs: Backcourt comes up big
BOSTON – The ship isn’t quite sailing as smoothly as the Celtics would want right now, but it’s without question heading in the right direction.
The 90-83 win over Dallas on Wednesday night was further proof of that.
It was a game that the Celtics had to execute efficiently down the stretch to win, needing big plays at both ends of the floor to finally put away a pesky Dallas team.
Still, more than the victory itself, the Celtics continued to show growth in all facets of the game, which bodes well for their chances of getting back to playing at a higher level more consistently.
And in doing so, it positions them for smoother sailing going forward.
Here are five takeaways from Wednesday’s victory:
It’s almost to a point where Avery Bradley getting a double-double doesn’t seem like that big a deal. The 6-foot-2 guard now has six double-doubles in 11 games this season. The most recent one against Dallas included a career-high 13 rebounds to go with 18 points. The way Bradley has played, he’s on the short list of early contenders for All-Star honors and potentially the league’s Most Improved Player award.
THOMAS’ CLUTCH GAME
His being 5-9 is always going to bring about some skeptics when it comes to Isaiah Thomas’ game. But it’s getting harder and harder to look at him as anything other than one of the better guards in the NBA. He’s averaging a career-high 27.2 points per game, which ranks eighth in the NBA. More significant is what he’s doing in the fourth quarter. Against the Mavs, he scored 22 of his 30 points in the fourth. On the season, Thomas’ 9.7 points in the fourth quarter average is second only to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, who averages 10.2 points in the fourth.
SMART’S STEALTH PLAY
Between Avery Bradley’s rebounding and Isaiah Thomas’ scoring, it’s easy to lose sight of the quietly effectively contributions being made of late by Marcus Smart. He continues to play lock-down defense (some of those shots Harrison Barnes hit over him could not be defended any better), but he’s also chipping on offense. He doesn’t shoot a high percentage or rack up lots of steals, but he makes big plays at both ends of the floor in big moments, which has been one of the more under-the-radar strengths of this Celtics team this season.
GROWTH OF BENCH
This is a group that continues to be a work in progress with two of its key members, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, in the starting lineup because of injuries. But those who are playing, are figuring out what they can do to help the team the most. Against the Mavs, Jonas Jerebko had seven rebounds. Terry Rozier played good defense which included blocking two shots. And Tyler Zeller made the most of his time on the floor, scoring four points along with grabbing four rebounds in eight minutes.
A big part of this team’s growth involves how they take care of business at home. We have seen the Celtics under Brad Stevens go from being a 16-win team his first year at the TD Garden, to one that won 28 games at home a year ago.
Well, it’s a different season but they are once again having a solid season playing in front of their fans.
The victory over Dallas raised Boston’s record at home to 4-1.
Just to put that in perspective, each of Stevens’ previous teams in Boston were 2-3 after their first five home games.