Paul Pierce gave Boston the lead with a 3-pointer, Rajon Rondo nestled in a layup and Vince Carter made it interesting (as though things needed to be more interesting) by draining a three to pull Dallas within one point with nine seconds to go, but Pierce did a solid for all the kids who had school tomorrow and went 5-for-6 from the line down the stretch to help the Celtics survive.
Whew. Thank goodness for the Celtics’ sake that they are off until Friday. They need the rest. We all probably do after this one.
Second overtime, 1:18, Celtics 108-107: Pierce hit a three. Mayo hit a layup. Then everybody stopped running offense. A bunch of standstill jumpers off dead legs had yielded all of five points combined with 78 seconds to go in the second OT.
On the bright side, if nobody scored again, we could all finally get out of there. I mean, the Celtics would win. That’s the bright side. Yeah.
End of first overtime, game tied 105-105: You might never see two worse end-of-clock possessions than the ones the Celtics put together at the end of regulation and the end of the first overtime.
Rondo spent almost seven seconds dribbling at the top of the key, and by the time he fed Pierce, there was little for Pierce to do but take a bad shot that was partially blocked. Ick.
Overtime, :11.1, game tied 105-105: That part about defending for a possession? Yeah, they didn’t. Mayo burst to the hoop and tied it on a layup.
Overtime, :26.9, Celtics 105-103: Do not bother wishing for anything this Christmas, Celtics fans. You already have Garnett.
The Big Ticket drained a clutch jumper to give Boston the lead. As long as the Celtics defend for one more possession — which they have not done consistently all night — they could walk out with a W.
Overtime, 1:07, game tied 101-101: Well, Celtics fans, you just lost your privilege to boo any call in this game from now on. Somehow, Fisher was whistled for a foul for standing there while Rondo failed to corral a missed free throw by Terry. The next foul puts Dallas over the limit.
Overtime, 2:05, Celtics 101-99: The Mavericks had been going with Fisher guarding Pierce, which said a lot about how Carlisle regards Pierce’s mobility these days. Still, that gamble was going to cost Dallas eventually. Pierce used his size advantage to muscle the 6-foot-1 Fisher into the post and spun baseline for a layup.
End of regulation, game tied 96-96: The officials ruled the Celtics tried to advance the ball before they called timeout, so the Celtics had to inbound the ball in the backcourt. Even so, the Celtics should have been able to get off some shot better than an off-balance jumper by Rondo that as stuffed by Fisher and never made it within 12 feet of the hoop.
Oh well. To overtime we go.
Fourth quarter, :06.9, game tied 96-96: This was where the Mavs miss Nowitzki.
With the ball in a tie game and the seconds winding down, Carter and Mayo played hot potato with the ball until they turned it over. The Celtics have the ball with less than seven seconds to avoid overtime.
Fourth quarter, 1:09, Celtics lead 96-95: The Celtics were fortunate the Mavs were so careless with the ball, otherwise this would have been a blowout, advantage Dallas. The Mavs shot 52 percent from the field and were winning the rebounding battle 40-34, and placed six scorers in double figures.
Win or lose, the Celtics have some things to figure out after this one.
Fourth quarter, 2:20, game tied 92-92: This was not acceptable.
After leading by as many as 14 points, the Celtics let the Mavericks weasel their way back into the game. On one defensive possession, even though it ended with Collison bricking a wide-open three, the Celtics looked completely disjointed as a group.
Collison, who looked alternately awesome and awful all game, came through with the tying hoop after blowing by Garnett for a layup. Good teams do not let an opponent wipe out a double-digit lead after committing more than 20 turnovers. They just don’t.
Fourth quarter, 5:21, Celtics 88-85: For probably the first time since he came to Boston, Green became something of a go-to guy for the Celtics in the fourth quarter. The results were mixed — he was 5-for-15 from the floor in the game — but his energy clearly had an effect on the Celtics.
Terry penetrated into the lane and found Green for a short hook shot, and Rondo went to Green in the post on the next possession. Green short-armed a turnaround shot, but on a fastbreak the very next time they had the ball, Rondo tossed the ball for an oop attempt to Green, who was fouled.
The Mavericks played right into Green’s hands by turning the ball over 21 times — 13 of those coming from backcourt players Mayo, Fisher and Collison — to let the athletic forward get out in transition.
Fourth quarter, 7:27, Celtics 86-83: You can tell Dallas is a veteran team because the Mavericks will not go away. Elton Brand and Vince Carter both gave them some solid offensive contributions, and Mayo started feeling it a little at the start of the fourth.
Lee beat Mayo with a nifty move off the dribble, but Mayo responded with a step-back jumper. On the Mavs’ next possession, Mayo shot a 28-footer that bounced off the front of the rim, high off the backboard and dropped through the net. Some fan had the nerve to yell “Get out on that!” at Lee, as though leaving a guy open five feet beyond the arc for a shot he couldn’t recreate once in 100 attempts was somehow irresponsible.
End of third quarter, Celtics lead 76-70: The closing minutes of the third quarter were a battle of the point guards. Darren Collison repeatedly helped the Mavs cut their deficit to four points, but Rondo repeatedly helped the Celtics stave them off.
Collison hit four of the five shots he took in the quarter for nine points, after taking just two in the previous two quarters. But Rondo was arguably better — the Celtics’ point man had six points on 3-for-4 shooting for six points and also had four assists.
Third quarter, 2:53, Celtics 70-63: The Celtics held onto their lead, but the last few minutes were a comedy of errors. After committing only three turnovers for the first 30 minutes or so, they coughed up the ball three times in three minutes. Predictably, that fueled a 7-2 Dallas run to halve the Celtics’ 14-point lead, their largest of the game.
Just as predictably, they went to Terry to bail them out. The Jet drained just his second shot of the game, a jumper, to stop the bleeding momentarily.
Third quarter, 7:26, Celtics 63-52: Before the game, when he was asked whether he missed Terry, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle responded, “Does a bear [expletive] in the woods?”
For the first half, Terry resembled that remark, in that he played like ursine excrement. But as everyone knows, you do not stop going to a shooter just because he goes through a cold stretch. Rondo did not hesitate to toss the ball in transition to Terry for a trailing triple.
Terry’s make made him 1-for-5 for the game, but bet on that being irrelevant to Rondo and the Celtics. As far as they are concerned, every time Terry touches the ball, he is 0-for-0.
Halftime, Celtics lead 48-43: O.J. Mayo apparently decided to take the next step in his career by not missing shots anymore. That strategy appears to has worked out big time for the Mavericks’ should-be All-Star shooting guard.
Mayo came into this game shooting a career-best 49 percent from the field and 53 percent from beyond the arc, a long-range percentage that would rank as the second-greatest single-season mark in the history of the NBA. He shot 3-for-4 in the first half against the Celtics, while his teammates shot 48 percent overall.
With that sort of shooting accuracy, how were the Mavs behind? Their 11 turnovers and 12 personal fouls had a ton to do with it. From Pierce to Green, the Celtics were effective in getting to the foul line and attempted 13 free throws to Dallas’ three.
Pierce played excellently from everywhere, though. He hit six of the nine shots he took and led all scorers with 16 points. Green had seven points to lead the charge for Boston’s bench, which chipped in 16 points as well.
Second quarter, 3:08, Celtics 45-35: Paul Pierce put on his big boy pants for this one. The Celtics’ captain had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting, with Mavs small forward Dahntay Jones at a loss for how to stop him. A pump-faking, up-and-under jumper gave Boston a 10-point lead and forced a timeout by Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.
Second quarter, 6:43, Celtics 35-30: With going on five decades of NBA experience among them, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter and Derek Fisher provided some interesting highlights (or lowlights) in a two-minute span.
Carter banked home a 3-pointer to get it started, and Garnett responded on the offensive end by spinning into the lane and airballing a four-footer. Then Fisher, who has not taken any shot that isn’t a 3-pointer since 2009, (don’t bother looking it up), split the defense and plopped home a wide-open, running layup.
Second quarter, 9:38, Celtics 33-25: The Celtics bench continued to round into form. Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green gave Boston a spark in the first quarter, and Courtney Lee kept up the pressure with a 3-pointer as the C’s outscored Dallas 6-1 over the first 2:22 of the second quarter. The more damage the Celtics can do with Garnett on the bench, the better it is for them long-term.
First quarter, 2:11, Celtics 23-21: Experiencing some technical difficulties at the Garden, so here is an update by Zach Stoloff:
Up until Brandon Bass nailed that open jumper, the Celtics looked to have been missing some open-look mid-range shots.
Chris Kaman’s the early leader for the Dirk-less Mavericks, with six points on three-of-four shooting. Thus far Jason Terry is 0-for-2 shooting against his former team.
8:20 p.m.: The Celtics’ stars sure made some noise there early, as Kevin Garnett put together a nifty few minutes there (six points, one assist) before being subbed out by coach Doc Rivers.
Paul Pierce, too, looked to have some early rhythm, hitting an early three-pointer and a mid-range jumper to get his shooting motion going early.
6:12 p.m.: As you might have heard, the 12th day of the 12th month of the 12th year of the new millennium (trust us, 2000 was the last year of the previous millennium) is a big deal. Nobody seems to be quite sure why, but that has not stopped some folks from going bonkers over 12/12/12.
Since crazy people occasionally have a point, keep an eye on Leandro Barbosa, No. 12 in your programs and at some unranked spot in your hearts.
Also keep an eye on Darren Collison and Rodrigue Beaubois. Neither Dallas point guard wears No. 12, but Collison wears No. 4 and Beaubois wears No. 3, which multiplied together equal 12.
5:20 p.m.: Although it does not do O.J. Mayo a whole lot of good now, the NBA came down swiftly and decisively on the guy who gave Mayo a shot in the jewels on Monday.
Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, who is no stranger to league-issued discipline, was suspended one game for “striking” Mayo “in the groin area” in the second quarter of Dallas’ victory over Sacramento.
But wait! That’s not all. We also have word from Dallas that former Mavs coach Don Nelson tried to trade Jason Terry for the immortal Raul Lopez back in the 2004-05 season. (According to Mark Cuban, anyway. Cuban and Nellie are not exactly the best of friends, so Cuban’s account should be taken with a grain of salt.)
We all know how Terry worked out in Dallas: He helped Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs win the title two years ago. As for Lopez, he was out of the league in two years. Gee, Cuban sure looks pretty good in this story that was leaked by Cuban, doesn’t he?
8 a.m. ET: The Celtics will play a great game on Wednesday, as will their opponent, the Mavericks. Or maybe only one team will play well. Or maybe neither. Nobody can really tell anymore with these two teams.
The Celtics and the Mavericks each made some interesting moves during the offseason. While the Celtics went all-out with depth to put them in position to contend for the next two to three years, the Mavericks stocked up on aging veterans on short-term contracts to free them up for a roster purge at any time. So far, the results for both teams have been mixed.
Boston (11-9) comes into the game having alternated three wins with three losses over its last six games. Dallas (11-10) has won three straight as one of the streakiest clubs in the NBA. Together on the same court, there is no telling what the expect Wednesday.
Join us for updates and analysis from the TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 8 p.m. ET.