The Dallas Mavericks lost on the road to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, 125-112. The Celtics came out aggressive on both ends. Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic were both brilliant offensively in the first half. Doncic had 22 points in the first half, and Tatum led all scorers with 23. Jaylen Brown and Spencer Dinwiddie were able sidekicks for both stars.
That is where the similarities ended. The Mavericks remaining starters provided nothing, while the Celtics remaining starters showed why they are the best team in the league so far this season. At one point in the third quarter, Doncic and Dinwiddie had combined for 44, which matched the 44 that Tatum and Brown combined for. Unfortunately, the remaining three starters for the Mavericks had combined for seven points while the remaining Celtics starters were all in double figures. The Mavericks made a few runs to make it respectable in the third and fourth quarters before ultimately falling short. Here are the things we learned.
Luka Doncic is unguardable
This is not exactly news. He finished with 42 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. There were times where his defensive effort was an issue, but it is just stunning how good he is. He played the entire second half until Jason Kidd pulled the plug and admitted defeat. His midrange game was particularly special tonight.
The Celtics made a clear decision not to double Doncic, but they also boast perhaps the most impressive collection of wing defenders in the league. None of them bothered him.
The Mavericks desperately need another playmaker
The Celtics offense provided an interesting contrast to the Mavericks. Every player in the starting lineup for the Celtics can dribble pass and shoot. The Mavericks have two starters who can make that claim. Against teams this good, that simply is not enough.
Christian Wood needs to play more
Wood played 34 minutes tonight. He certainly had his fair share of defensive lapses, but he was far from the only one. He contributed 26 points and 12 rebounds on 10-of-14 shooting. The Mavericks ran offense through him in the post for large stretches of the third quarter run. People, including Kidd, constantly harp that Doncic needs to give the ball up some, but fail to mention how unsuited his teammates are to take those touches.
Dorian Finney-Smith is a very good NBA player. He would start for every team in the league and his extension was a bargain. But he does not need to initiate offense. Neither does Reggie Bullock who is mired in his annual early season slump. If the goal is to get Doncic to run fewer plays offensively, the solution is to pair him with Wood.
Josh Green is the Mavericks best defender
Green has more limitations than his champions would like to admit. But he is a legitimate NBA rotation player now. He was the only player on the Mavericks who played defense as well as the Celtics. Tim Hardaway Jr. is broken. The only explanation for his continued playing time is that the Mavericks hope to trade him at the deadline. If they fail to do so, Green should get more of his minutes.
Overall, “Momma said there would be days like this.” This was a rough game. There will be better days ahead.
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