Final, Mavericks win 102-91: Despite closing the game on a 21-10 run, the Boston Celtics simply dug themselves too deep a hole to challenge the Dallas Mavericks.
Jeff Green scored 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting as the Celtics (18-34) as a team struggled to find the bottom of the net. Boston shot 36 percent from the field, with Chris Johnson being one of their few hot hands. C.J. was 4-for-4 on 3-pointers for 14 points.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 20 points for the Mavericks (31-21), who led by as many as 24 points and were never seriously threatened. Rajon Rondo, who will sit out Monday’s game in Milwaukee to rest his surgically repaired knee, finished with 15 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds without a single turnover in the defeat.
Fourth quarter, 1:27, Mavs 98-86: Brad Stevens’ optimism knows no bounds. The Celtics have closed within 12 points and forced a shot-clock violation, and Stevens wants to draw something up. He’s clinging to hope of a miracle. He’s a believer.
Fourth quarter, 3:16, Mavs 96-81: The Celtics are not going to win this game. They might not even lose it by a respectable margin. But Rondo has helped his 3-point shooting percentage, at least.
Rondo is 3-for-6 from downtown, nailing a pull-up trey from straight away after bringing the ball up the court. Somehow, he’s within reach of a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, but this would be the emptiest of empty triple-doubles.
Fourth quarter, 6:38, Mavs 89-65: The boo birds have started to make themselves heard here. With Gerald Wallace throwing a pass that gets picked off — his third turnover in just 15 minutes — fans start retreating to the exits, while a few that remain give the listless Celtics a Bronx cheer.
Fourth quarter, 9:23, Mavs 81-58: Brad Stevens calls timeout as Dirk drains a three, but I’m not sure what Stevens can tell his team at this point. Try not to be bad?
Nowitzki’s triple gives him 20 points and extends Dallas’ lead to 23 points. Rondo is back in to replace Pressey, more to give Rondo a full night’s work than to make any last-ditch comeback push. Rondo’s not playing Monday night in Milwaukee, so he might as well get his cardio in now.
End of third quarter, Mavs 72-56: How bad are the Celtics playing? This badly: Despite shooting just 7-for-19 in the third quarter, their field goal percentage actually improved.
Bradley, Sullinger and Green are shooting the Celtics out of this game, if there were any way the Celts could be in this game. The trio is 8-for-34 combined. Sullinger’s 11 rebounds are just about the only saving grace.
Third quarter, 4:31, Mavs 62-48: Things are getting ugly here at the Garden. The Celtics’ inability to hit shots is leaking over to the defensive end, where their effort has fallen off considerably. A three by Rondo cuts down somewhat on Dallas’ 17-point advantage, but it’s clear the Celtics are fading fast. They need some sort of boost soon if they are to keep this game from getting any more lopsided.
Third quarter, 9:14, Mavs 49-40: Well, the Mavericks look like they’ve found their strokes. They open the second half making four of their first five shots, including a nice lob from Calderon to Dalembert for a layup. Calderon now has nine points and four assists, the same as Rondo, as both point guards are having pretty nice nights.
If only their teammates could hit shots, each point guard would be stalking double-digit assists already.
Halftime, Mavs 44-38: Just when the Celtics started to look respectable, Carlisle and the Mavs stamped them down again.
Carlisle is a heck of a coach, and despite Dirk Nowitzki leading all scorers with 15 points, the Mavs have been best when they’ve used him as a decoy. Jose Calderon used the Celtics’ concern over Dirk to work a nifty drive-and-dish to Sam Dalembert for a layup on Dallas’ last possession of the first half.
We’ll make the analysis here easy: The Celtics aren’t hitting shots. They shot 27 percent in the first half and were just 3-for-12 from deep. Rajon Rondo has nine points and Jared Sullinger has nine boards, but there are really no statistical standouts for Boston. The Celtics should just be happy the non-Dirk Mavs, who are 9-for-26 from the field, are having as rough a time as they are.
Second quarter, 3:20, Mavs 34-33: With Rondo pushing the pace, the Celtics are moving the ball and making some headway. A sweet touch pass from Green to Jared Sullinger for a layup led to a spot-up three by Avery Bradley to pull Boston within a point. Nowitzki is still doing his thing, drilling a fadeaway rainbow to keep Dallas in the lead, but the Celtics are now playing together and actually creating some good looks.
Second quarter, 5:59, Mavs 30-24: Monta Ellis is not known as a model of efficiency, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has managed to get Ellis to play at his peak. Ellis is having the start of another solid outing, even if his shooting percentage isn’t so hot.
Ellis has missed three of his four field goal attempts, but he has five points on a corner three and a pair of free throws. He’s also chipped in two steals and three rebounds, which isn’t bad for a guard known for shooting first, second and third before thinking about any other stat.
Second quarter, 8:22, Mavs 23-22: Someone must have moved the baskets up or tightened the screws. That’s the only explanation for why neither team can hit a shot.
Four minutes into the second quarter, the teams are a combined 15-for-52 from the field. Nowitzki, who has hit four of his seven shots, is the only player shooting better than 50 percent. The Celtics actually have assists on the majority of their buckets, but since they have only seven baskets and five assists, that’s a lot less impressive than it might normally be.
End of first quarter, Mavs 17-16: Vince Carter is a lot less than “half-amazing” these days, but he can still make a bigger, slower defender look silly. After drawing Olynyk on a switch, Carter played with the rook for a bit before draining a step-back 3-pointer in his eye.
Made shots have been hard to come by for either team, though, so Carter’s shot wasn’t at all an indication of the first 12 minutes for Dallas or the Celtics. Gerald Wallace had one of the best looks of the first quarter, a fast-break dunk off a feed from Jeff Green, but he muffed the slam.
The Celtics are just 5-for-22 from the field, while Dallas is 6-for-18. This ain’t exactly a shooting clinic.
First quarter, 5:43, Mavericks 8-7: This game started an hour and a half earlier than the usual 7:30 p.m. tip-off, but the Celtics apparently didn’t get the memo.
The Celtics missed seven of their first eight shots before Jeff Green barreled down the lane for a dunk to pull them within one point. Fortunately, for the Celtics, the Mavs haven’t shot much better — except for Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk hit his first three shots, all of them with his typical ceiling-scraping arc, scoring seven of the Mavs’ first eight points to push Dallas into the lead. Kelly Olynyk makes an early entrance in place of Brandon Bass, who picks up three early fouls trying to contain Dirk. Olynyk isn’t assigned to defend Dirk — thankfully for the rookie.
4:30 p.m.: Assuming Rajon Rondo doesn’t experience any setbacks with a pregame workout — slated to occur within the next 5-10 minutes — he will suit up and be in the starting lineup this evening.
Avery Bradley, who missed Boston’s last game with a sprained right ankle, is also expected to be in the lineup. Bradley has already gone through his routine and is ready to go, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
This will be an interesting matchup for rookie Kelly Olynyk. The Gonzaga product and 7-foot jump-shooter not surprisingly is a fan of Dirk Nowitzki. He even wears the same jersey No. 41. Olynyk and Nowitzki probably won’t be guarding each other a ton, but this is the rookie’s best chance to see Nowitzki operate in person at TD Garden this season.
The projected starting lineups — assuming Rondo and Bradley, as well as Monta Ellis, who is a game-time decision with a strained hamstring, play — appear below.
8 a.m. ET: Winners of three straight games with reinforcements on the way, the Boston Celtics are suddenly in a somewhat advantageous position.
Rajon Rondo expects to be back in the starting lineup when the Celtics (18-33) host the Dallas Mavericks (30-21) on Sunday. Avery Bradley is questionable with a sprained ankle, but the fact that the Celtics were able to extend their winning streak even with Rondo and Bradley missing Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings gives the Celtics reason to believe Sunday’s game might not be a total beatdown.
A few weeks ago, that’s exactly what most Celtics observers assumed this game would be.
Despite missing out on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, the Mavs have turned themselves into a very competitive outfit once again. Dirk Nowitzki has re-established himself as one of the game’s great scorers, while Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis have been pleasant surprises in Dallas’ backcourt. Ellis’ status is up in the air due to a hamstring injury, which would be one of the few breaks the Celtics have gotten this season.
Join us for updates and analysis from TD Garden during the game, which tips off at 6 p.m.