Celtics

Celtics-Mavericks takeaways: C's fall to Dallas again in crunch time

Celtics

The Boston Celtics' five-game win streak was snapped Sunday as they fell to the Dallas Mavericks in a nail-biter, 95-92.

Spencer Dinwiddie hit 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 to fall at the buzzer.

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Marcus Smart appeared to be fouled by Doncic on a 3-point attempt with four seconds remaining. Dallas challenged the call, however, and it was overturned to help seal the Mavs victory.

It was a familiar ending for the Celtics, who lost to Dallas on a Doncic 3 at the buzzer in November.

Along with the C's win streak, Tatum's five-game streak of 30+ points also came to an end. He finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds against a stifling Mavs defense. On the other side, Doncic finished with a game-high 26 points to go with eight assists.

Here are three instant takeaways from the Celtics' defeat, which brings them to 41-28 on the season. They'll begin a West Coast road trip Wednesday night with a 10 p.m. ET showdown vs. the Golden State Warriors.

Top defenses on display

The Celtics and Mavericks entered Sunday's action with the No. 1 and No. 6 defensive ratings in the NBA, respectively. The top-ranked units were on display as both offenses had major issues, particularly in the first half. The first quarter was a struggle on both sides with the two teams combining for only 38 points.

 

It marked the C's first game held under 100 points scored since Jan. 28. The Mavs scored less than 100 for the first time since Feb. 12.

Boston's inability to get shots to fall from beyond the arc turned out to be the difference-maker. While Dallas finished 40.5% (15-37) from 3, the C's were only 24.3% (9-37). Tatum and Jaylen Brown were a combined 13-for-39 from the field and 5-for-17 from long range.

The Celtics' usually-stout defense let its foot off the gas pedal in the third quarter, when the Mavericks exploded for 38 points. They were unable to bounce back in the fourth quarter with both teams scoring only 19 points in the final frame.

Al Horford does his part

Without Al Horford, this game could very well have been a blowout loss for Boston. The veteran big man was its best player on both sides of the court in what was an especially ugly offensive performance for the team.

Amid so much talk about Smart or Robert Williams deserving Defensive Player of the Year recognition, Horford showed he's still no slouch as a defender either. The 35-year-old was a thorn in Dallas' side all game and notched six rebounds, a career-high five steals and with two blocks.

Horford also was 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 got "The Big Ticket" out of his courtside seat.

Brown threw down a monstrous dunk on Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber that got Garnett hyped. The Hall of Famer got up and celebrated with Brown after the play in what made for an iconic moment between Celtics greats of the past and present.

It wasn't the best day for Brown, who tallied 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting, but that moment with KG undoubtedly will be one he cherishes forever.