Key Moment

Boston’s effort left something to be desired during the opening minutes of the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against the Mavericks. That effort may have cost it a chance at a win.

A momentum-swinging series of events took place less than two minutes into the final quarter. While trailing by only five points, the Celtics stood and watched consecutive misses by Dallas, and that allowed the Mavs to sneak in for consecutive offensive rebounds.

As luck would have it, those two offensive rebounds led to three big points for Dallas that fueled a strong finish of its 113-104 win.

After Terry Rozier missed a 3-pointer for Boston, Wesley Matthews took the ball in the other direction in transition and attacked his defender, Semi Ojeleye. He missed his ensuing layup attempt as he faded away from the basket, from left to right.

As the ball bounced off the rim, Al Horford boxed out Salah Mejri, but no one else crashed in to grab the loose ball. So Matthews stepped back inbounds and grabbed it himself. The ball eventually swung back around to him for a 3-point attempt from the left corner, but he missed that attempt as well.

The second miss by Matthews bounced up onto the top of the backboard and trickled along it before falling off the edge and toward the floor. As all of those bounces happened, no one on the Celtics gave any effort to box out or to attack the eventual landing spot of the ball. Mejri, meanwhile, did.

Mejri followed the bounce of the ball and reached right over an unsuspecting Jayson Tatum for another offensive rebound with 10:35 remaining. Three seconds later, he kicked out to Devin Harris, who drained a deep 3-pointer with 10:32 left on the clock.

That basket bumped Dallas’ lead up to 92-84, and Boston never cut that lead to fewer than six points the rest of the night. The maximum effort given by the Mavs fueled them with energy. Meanwhile, the minimal effort given by the Celtics sucked them dry of it.

Key Player

One would have thought that the Celtics would have been in better position to grab a win Saturday night after Rick Carlisle announced that Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas’ starting point guard, would not play. Instead, the opposite was the case.

J.J. Barea garnered more playing time as a result of Smith Jr.’s absence and he wound up turning in his best performance of the season.

Barea tied Harrison Barnes for Dallas’ team high in scoring with 20 points and he also tied Luka Doncic for the game high in assists with eight. Seven of those points and three of those assists were tallied during the fourth quarter. Additionally, tallied three rebounds and two steals.

Let us remind you that Barea did all of this while coming off of the bench for the Mavericks. He played only 26 minutes during the contest, but he made the most of them. Dallas outscored Boston by eight points during that time.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Both teams scored 42 points in the paint.
  • Boston’s largest lead was just one point, while Dallas led by as many as 16 points.
  • Jayson Tatum led the game in scoring with 21 points.
  • J.J. Barea and Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 20 points apiece.
  • The contest featured two ties and two lead changes.
  • Barea also totaled a game-high eight assists, tying Luka Doncic.
  • Marcus Smart scored 19 points off of Boston’s bench.
  • Aron Baynes led the C’s in rebounds with nine.
  • DeAndre Jordan grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
  • Dallas made as many free throws (13) as Boston attempted.

Quote of the Night

Last year, teams when they came in and played the Celtics, they knew they were in for a fight. This year, teams can’t wait to play us. And that’s a problem.

Marcus Smart after Boston’s loss to the Mavs.

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