Doncic sinks the Celtics further

Great game from the point guard, who directs the Mavs take off in the first half. The Celtics, booed again, desperately tried the comeback.


Two games with a crowd at the Garden… with two losses and stretches of boos from the stands for the Celtics. The two (Pelicans, Mavs) trying to come back, both with disastrous sections that spoil all the good that Brad Stevens' team can do, which after rearing his head for 50% of victories is seen again, after this 108-113 against the Dallas Mavericks, with a -2 (23-25) that is ruinous for a current Conference finalist. That he's eighth now, and that he's no more in a hurry because of how weak the East is beyond the elite (Nets, Sixers, Bucks). The two conference finalists in the bubble, Heat and Celtics, are 24-24 and 23-25. Eye-catching.

The Mavericks are seventh in a much tougher West (25-21 now), gradually moving away from that 50%, controlling the play-in zone in what already seems an islet they occupy with Spurs, trying to distance the Warriors and Grizzlies and, above all, those who come from behind. The Kings, the first right now without a play-off, are four games behind Rick Carlisle.

At the Garden, the Celtics were once again a schizophrenic team, with moments in which they seem not to care what happens on the court and others in which they go out of their way to snatch victories from, literally, the jaws of defeat. Marcus Smart usually reigns in that climate, which is not a focused team, with all the successes and errors that include those trances with nerves on the surface that, at least, give life to the greens. Not enough: this time a 51-74 already late in the third quarter became a 95-101 with almost four minutes to play and reached a 107-109, a tighter finish than logic indicated until a few minutes before and who waded between Doncic and Jalen Brunson, two generation mates (number 3 and 33 in the 2018 draft).The Mavericks decided to run out of possessions and let the clock tick too soon, and they nearly scared themselves to death. They got entangled in wars that got them nowhere, mixed with the Celtics' ultra-small quintets (Kemba Walker-Marcus Smart-Jaylen Brown-Evan Fournier-Jayson Tatum) who knocked out a Kristaps Porzingis (19 points, 8 rebounds) who had put up three blocks in the first quarter. The Mavs finally came out on top, supported by a huge three-shot difference (11/47 to 19/39) that was outrageous at halftime (4/24 to 13/23). The second quarter (20-34 for a 45-64) was decisive. There, with the Mavericks scoring at will, Luka Doncic had 13 of the 24 points leading up to halftime (double that of then-Celtics leading scorer Jaylen Brown). The Slovenian finished with 36, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and a 7/11 in triples (11/15 total in shots), by far the best player of the match, the driver (as almost always) of his team's victory.With less influence from Porzingis as the minutes passed, the Mavericks missed more input (not the first time) from Josh Richardson but had (not the first time, of course) a brilliant Brunson, a multipurpose point guard who contributes in everything and he gets very little wrong (21 points, 8/10 in shots, final cold blood in free throws). In front, the Celtics did not have Robert Williams and Evan Fournier started well after his calamitous debut but finished with only 6 for a bench that remained at 18, less than Brunson added from the Mavs. Kemba went from more to less (22 + 5 + 6), Brown finished with 24 points and Tatum with 25 but 1/8 in triples. The Celtics remain the same, with a thousand faces in the games, more bad than good, very unreliable and hardly similar to what an elite team should be. And time is running out, it's that simple.

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