BOSTON – The energy level seemed low, multi-effort plays were virtually non-existent and for the most part, the Boston Celtics weren’t playing as hard as the Dallas Mavericks for long stretches of play on Wednesday.
And so Brad Stevens turned to Shane Larkin, a player who has shown the ability to swing the tide of a game in Boston’s momentum.
That’s exactly what Larkin did on Wednesday, having his best game in weeks as Boston rallied for a 97-90 win over Dallas.
Larkin had 11 points for Boston, shooting 4-for-8 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
The numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping; that is, until you factor in Larkin hadn’t scored in double figures since tallying 16 points on Nov. 10 against Charlotte.
Coming into Wednesday’s game, the number of games Larkin played in (6) was equal to the number of DNP-CDs (did not play-coaches decision) since the 16-point scoring outburst.
And in those six games he did see time, he missed 14 of his 15 shot attempts.
“Mentally, I think I’m prepared for whatever comes to me,” Larkin said. “That’s what I do every single game.”
Larkin’s opportunity to play came about in part because the Celtics were missing Jaylen Brown (eye inflammation) and Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation).
“If I get called on, I just try to go and do my thing,” Larkin said.
And while he may go long stretches without seeing any time, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens remains confident in Larkin when he puts him on the floor.
“You know what he’s going to be able to do,” Stevens said. “When he goes in, he can change the tempo. He can get into people on defense. He’s a good basketball player. And when we got him, to me it’s all about … games where it’s not going great, he can change the tempo of that. And nights where you don’t have all your bodies, you feel great about him with the ball.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 97-90 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
When it comes to getting it done the stretch, Kyrie Irving continues to set himself apart from the masses. He led all scorers on Wednesday with 23 points which included nine in the fourth quarter.
He didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’ve seen in recent games, but Horford was nonetheless effective for the Celtics.
The Celtics by and large did a good job of contesting Barnes’ shots, but that still didn’t stop him from having an effective scoring night. He led the Mavericks with 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting to go with seven rebounds and three assists.
With both Jaylen Brown (eye) and Marcus Morris (left knee) out, the Celtics needed the 19-year-old rookie to carry a little more of the load scoring and rebounding the ball. He would tally his second double-double of the season, with 17 points and 10 rebounds with one steal.
It wasn’t dominant Dirk from years past, but the 7-footer is still really good. He had 16 points and six rebounds.
Having missed 14 of his last 15 shots coming into Wednesday’s game, Larkin made the most of his opportunity to play. He had 11 points off the bench – that’s only the third time he has scored 10 or more points this season – on 4-for-8 shooting which included him shooting 3-for-5 from three-point range.
His energy and all-out hustle on the glass has been one of the more pleasant surprises for the Celtics this season. On Wednesday he finished with seven points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with a career-high 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
If you didn’t know his name before Wednesday’s game, you do now. He was a major factor at both ends of the floor, finishing with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting along with five rebounds and five blocked shots.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Similar to their first meeting, Smith got off to a great start only to struggle for the bulk of the game shooting the ball. He had 12 points, but did so on 4-for-16 shooting.
This was not one of Smart’s better games, for sure. The fact that he finished with two points on 1-for-5 shooting wasn’t the problem. His playmaking was off all game, evident by him tallying as many turnovers (4) as assists (4).