If the Boston Celtics didn’t fall below .500 with Tuesday night’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, then you probably chalk up Luka Doncic’s two heroic 3-pointers as a good player making an incredibly difficult play.
The 15-16 Celtics, though, don’t deserve that excuse. For Boston, It’s just another loss for a team which has now lost seven of the last 10 and 13 of the last 20.
“I think the two things that put them in position to win the game were obviously Luka’s two monster shots,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters during his postgame video press conference after the game.
“He just hit two tremendous shots. So, kudos to him. That happens sometimes when you play well. So, there’s an encouraging sign to that. The problem is that we’re in the position we’re in because we haven’t always played well.”
And for a team that was coming off its latest rendition of “worst loss of the season,” they didn’t play well in Tuesday’s 110-107 defeat either.
Again, the sense of urgency for a team that has now lost seven of 10 wasn’t exactly urgent. And then they allowed Dallas to take a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead after an extended 19-6 run.
Yeah, the C’s put together a late run to make it interesting, even taking a 105-104 lead with 38 ticks left, but again they weren’t consistent. Doncic’s two 3-pointers were what officially handed Boston the loss, but it wasn’t the only reason.
“It’s tough,” Jaylen Brown told reporters after scoring a team-high 29 points. “I think it’s another heartbreaking loss. I think we played well in spots, just got to finish games better. Doncic obviously got the switch, hit two tough shots. … When a guy gets going like that, it’s tough, but we got to get the ball out of his hands, for sure.”
Now, Boston is back to below .500, a feat which has seemingly been on the horizon for at least a week or two. But that doesn’t mean it should be any easier to digest or that it’s common. The Celtics haven’t been below .500 this late in the season since 2014-15 when they were 40-42.
“Yeah, it’s tough to lose (the) last two games,” Jayson Tatum said after scoring 28 points on his own. “Obviously, we played well down the stretch. It’s the NBA, guys get going and hit some tough shots. But, we got a game tomorrow, just try to move on to the next one. That’s all you can do.”
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Mavericks:
— Boston set another franchise mark Tuesday, too.
The Celtics now have allowed an opposing player to score 30-plus points in each of their last seven games. The last time the franchise had allowed that was 1962.
Tuesday, it was Doncic (31), but before then, it was Brandon Ingram (33), Trae Young (31), Young (40), Nikola Jokic (43), Bradley Beal (35) and even rookie Saddiq Bey (30).
“We’re not as good defensively as we have been. That’s another part of it, right?” Stevens said. “…I think we’ve improved in that area, but I still don’t think we’re where you want to be if you want to be good.”
— Both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were named NBA All-Star reserves Tuesday.
Unfortunately, Tuesday’s postgame — even after Brown’s 29 and Tatum’s 28 — didn’t exactly feel like time for celebration.
“I don’t feel very much like an All-Star because we’re below .500,” Brown, the first-time selection, said rather bluntly after the game.
— Now, they’ll have to turn it around — something they’ve tried to do for weeks, if not a month.
“Take it one game at a time,” Tatum said. “We got to get a win first, feel some momentum. We keep win a game, lose a game, win a game, lose two. It’s hard to get some momentum like that. We got to get a win first, build off that. We get a win tomorrow hopefully we’ll feel better about ourselves, hopefully we can build off that.”
— The Celtics return to the floor Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks at 7:30 p.m. ET.