The first game of TNT’s Tuesdays night double header featured three of the NBA’s youngest stars. Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks faced off against the Boston Celtics. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown come into the game shortly after being announced as 2021 All-stars. The Celtics, only missing Marcus Smart, look to avoid a sub .500 record for the first time since the 2014 season. Smart has missed 13 straight games due to a left calf strain and is slated to return after the All-star break. Dallas enters the matchup winning six of their last eight games but this one had to be done without Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber.
Dallas seemed to wrap this game up leading by 12 with 4 minutes left after a Jalen Brunson three but Boston made things interesting. The Celtics ended the game on a 18-9 run only to be overshadowed by the magic of Luka the Don. Tatum, Brown and Kemba Walker all pitched in 20+ points in the same game for the first time this season. No one else on the Celtics scored in double figures as their bench got outscored by Brunson himself. Brunson (22pts) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (14pts) carried the Mavs bench in route to a late game takeover by Doncic.
STAR OF THE GAME
The Don’s 31 points made this the 7th straight game that an opponent dropped 30 or more on the Celtics. He also flirted with a triple double adding 10 boards and eight dimes. Doncic shot 11-23 and the flair he plays with makes it hard not to tip your hat as a viewer. While he doesn’t have elite athletic ability, Doncic never seems to have a problem playmaking and getting off shots. Creativity and skill headline the many strengths of the Maverick star’s game and all of that was on display tonight especially in the clutch.
Jaylen Brown hit a pull up over Willie Cauley-Stein to put the C’s up one with 37 seconds left. Boston played tremendous defense for 20 seconds but it only took Doncic four seconds to shake Daniel Theis and put his team up two with a step back three. JB again answers Doncic with a tough bucket in the paint to tie the game up. Then… i’ll just let the tape speak for itself.
Doncic is a star in this league and the Celtics fell victim to his heroics.
2nd half offense has been the C’s worst enemy most games. Whether it’s giving up a big lead or trying to keep the game close, the C’s always seem to decline in the 3rd period. Tonight the talented offensive group only managed to score 20 points in the 3rd on a 36% clip. The C’s were on track to add to their horrible 4th quarter resume tonight also. They stand 26th in the league in 4th quarter points but actually came alive in the last four minutes. It’s promising to see them fight late but this is something the Celtics have to get better at.
When they have a big lead the game almost certainly will get interesting down the stretch and have fans at the edge of their seats. A couple things cause this and the main thing to me is just players becoming free. Plays are not being ran in any Celtics 20 point lead and when teams go on runs Brad Stevens this year has suddenly decided to let the guys play through it and not make the necessary substitution. Changes are needed to the way the Celtic’s play in the moments leading up to crunch time.
Jalen Brunson was huge for the Mav’s off the bench as he has been often in this weird NBA season. Brunson scored 22 points and hit some timely shots at the end of shot clocks and on plays that seem to be broken. Rick Carlisle says the Villanova guard has made the biggest improvement since he came to the Organization out of any player in his coaching career. Brunson has earned his coach’s trust by taking care of the ball and being a pest on defense. He is also very reliable and steady when Doncic goes to the bench or wants to play off-ball.
Vs. Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, February 24th at 7:30pm
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