Celtics

Celtics-Mavericks takeaways: C's battle back before Doncic denies them, again

Celtics

Call it de ja Luka.

For the second time in as many seasons, Dallas Mavericks superstar point guard Luka Doncic unleashed a crushing 3-pointer on the Boston Celtics for a 107-104 victory, denying the Green what would have been a spirited shorthanded win over a quality Mavs team on the road.

The Celtics were without Jaylen Brown, which they knew heading into the contest, but also saw reserve guard Romeo Langford scratched at the last second due to a non-COVID related illness.

The end result denied Boston a perfect 3-0 road trip and prevented the team from getting back to .500 on the season ahead of its return home to face the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. Here are some key takeaways from the game:

1) Jayson Tatum is just fine

No need to fret when it comes to Tatum's poor -- by his standard -- performances over the last week or so for the Celtics.

Sans Brown, the offense ran through Tatum and he answered almost whenever called upon, finishing with 32 points -- his first time topping 30 in the last five games -- on 12 of 19 shooting, including 6 of 8 from 3-point land. Tatum made more 3s against the Mavericks than he had in his last five games combined.

When the Celtics went on a 21-5 run in the third quarter to get themselves back in the game, it was Tatum flashing his game both inside and out to lead it.

 

Tatum added 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.

Boston won't reach a championship level without both Tatum and Brown firing on all cylinders, but it's nonetheless comforting to see one of them turn in a performance like this without the other available.

2) Mixed results on dual PG lineup

With Brown out of the lineup, Dennis Schroder drew the start alongside Marcus Smart in the backcourt.

Schroder, making his third start of the season, was solid if unspectacular, pouring in 20 points on 9 of 22 shooting (1 for 6 from 3-point range) with six assists in 38 minutes. Smart, in 36 minutes, took only five shots (!), making two of them -- including a 3-pointer for Boston's first lead of the night, 104-102, with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter.

Naturally, it was the last points the Celtics would score on the night. Their last field goal attempt of the game was a flailing mid-range floater from Smart, who was looking for a foul that was never going to be called, setting the stage for a Doncic dagger.

With Schroder starting, the only Boston reserve who played well was Josh Richardson (13 points, 6 of 12 shooting) in his return from a foot injury. The other three Celtics to get in the game -- Grant Williams, Aaron Nesmith and Peyton Pritchard -- combined for 2 points on 1 for 9 shooting.

3) Communication breakdown

Should Doncic have had such a clean look for 3 at the buzzer?

Had he not been fouled by Smart with 11.4 seconds on the clock, it's possible the Mavericks would have rushed their final possession and settled for overtime against the Celtics -- maybe even give the Green one last chance at a win in regulation. Only six seconds remained on the shot clock at the time of the foul.

Instead, Dallas was able to settle down and deliver a better look for Doncic. According to Celtics coach Ime Udoka, the plan was not for Smart or any Celtic to foul in that situation.