The Fast Break: Mavs at Celtics

Final: Celtics 97, Mavs 90

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

The Mavericks have held a double-digit halftime lead in three straight games. Similarly, Dallas has led after three quarters in seven of the last nine games.

Yogi Ferrell collected a career-high seven rebounds in this one.

Notebook

  • Maxi Kleber is turning into a pretty nice NBA player. He’s been a solid addition to the starting lineup, averaging 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in his last six games. But he was also averaging only 0.3 blocks per game in that time, which looks really weird in retrospect after seeing the way he swatted shots tonight. Kleber racked up four rejections in the first half alone against the Celtics, with a pair of them coming right before halftime in loud fashion.

    Kleber has been a good defensive rebounder and finisher at the rim all season long, but now he’s starting to knock down jumpers too, which further opens up his offensive game and his teammates’, too. He’s a guy most people had probably never heard of before this season, but he’s quickly starting to make a name for himself not only Dallas, but around the league.

  • Talk about a game of runs. Dallas put together a 12-0 surge in the first half, and the Celtics had runs of 15-2 and 12-0 in the second half. There are always huge swings in every game, especially now that teams can pile up a lot of points very quickly with 3-pointers, but rarely do you see as many massive runs like we did tonight. This was an unusually competitive game considering the number of swings we saw, and it led to some pretty entertaining basketball. Despite the result, the Mavs are continuing to get better and they’ve shown twice now that they can stick with the Celtics, who at this point are looking like the class of the league.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (7-18) will play the Milwaukee Bucks (12-10) on Friday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center at 7 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Celtics

    Final: Celtics 110, Mavs 102

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavericks won the third quarter by 12 points, 28-16. The +12 differential was the Mavs’ highest gap in the third quarter all season, and highest since Feb. 15, 2017.

    Wesley Matthews recorded four steals tonight, the most in a game by any Maverick this season and his most since swiping four on Dec. 14, 2016.

    This was the first time either team played in overtime this season.

    The last time the Celtics lost a game, the Mavs had a 0-0 record. Dallas’ home opener had barely begun.

    Notebook

  • Harrison Barnes is becoming pretty good. Tonight was one of those games as a go-to guy where you can impose your will on a defense. Barnes was magnificent in the third quarter, as the Mavs repeatedly forced Kyrie Irving to switch onto the bigger Barnes in the high-post. That led to a lot of drives and free throw attempts and really propelled the +12 third quarter. Brad Stevens is a smart fella, though, so when the fourth quarter began he slid Irving over to the Mavs’ off-guard and put the longer Jaylen Brown on Dennis Smith Jr., so anytime the Celtics would switch Barnes would still have a longer wing on him. That’s good coaching, and it took away what had been an easy play for Dallas. This is the kind of game you want to see from an emerging go-to player. He won his initial matchup convincingly and forced the defense to adjust. Barnes finished with a season-high-tying 31 points.

  • This morning, Wesley Matthews talked about the importance of random movement on offense leading to better, in-rhythm looks. That might not make much sense, but think about it this way: When you as the offensive player is moving randomly and not within the confines of a set play, the defender can’t anticipate the next move. Scouting is so advanced in this league that most teams know every other team’s set plays by heart. It’s tough to beat a five-man unit that knows exactly what you’re doing. When you incorporate random movement, as Rick Carlisle put it, your players are reacting instead of thinking. They take the open shot when it’s there and cut to the open spot when they see it instead of sticking to the script. It benefited Matthews’ game tonight; he hit four 3-pointers.

  • Here’s your feel-good highlight of the game: J.J. Barea was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and fell down. His entire team ran over to help him up.

    That might seem hokey or unnecessary but I assure you the Mavs coaches will be smile when they see that on the film tomorrow. Everyone is engaged and playing together and that reflected itself in the intensity and final scoreline against the best team in the league right now.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (3-15) will play the Memphis Grizzlies (7-8) on Wednesday at FexEx Forum at 7 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Celtics

    Final: Celtics 90, Mavs 83

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs limited the Celtics to just 0.455 points per possession in the second quarter, outscoring Boston 14-10 in the frame.

    The Dallas offense erupted in the third quarter, scoring 1.211 points per possession, thanks to a concerted effort to get to the free throw line. The Mavs as a team shot seven from the stripe in the third. Wesley Matthews’ 3-point barrage also contributed.

    Notebook

  • Harrison Barnes was magnificent again, overcoming a 4-of-14 shooting start to finish with 28 points, his fifth consecutive game with at least 20 points. Per Basketball-Reference, the last Mavericks forward to score at least 20 points in five straight games was Josh Howard in 2008. He did it on the block, in the mid-range, and at the rim — so, in other words, it’s been business as usual of late for Barnes, who has suddenly become a reliable go-to option. He hit so many shots in this game. It’s been so amazing to watch his growth.

  • Wesley Matthews erupted from his 3-point shooting slump in this game, connecting on six of his 13 attempts. It’s been a difficult start to the 2016-17 season from Matthews, at least on the offensive end, but it was good to see him shoot the ball so well tonight. The Mavs certainly needed all the scoring they could get. Hopefully Matthews’ start is now behind him and he can carry this momentum into Friday’s game against Memphis.

  • The Mavs’ defense had one of its finest performances of the season, if not its best, in this one. The club came into the game forcing turnovers more often than any other team in the NBA and, true to form, Dallas forced 19 giveaways in this one to stay close enough through the early going. The Mavericks force mistakes by taking charges, jumping pass lanes, and keeping active hands against driving opponents. I can’t count how many times a Mavericks player will swipe at the ball or reach in against a driving opponent from a help position. Those types of things add up across an entire game, especially in this game, when Boston started so hot from the field.

  • J.J. Barea suffered what appeared to be a non-contact injury to his lower left leg midway through the fourth quarter. He immediately fell to the ground and got up slowly, walking to the locker room with help without putting any pressure on his left leg. Needless to say, it was a scary moment and the hope is for the best for Barea. According to Mavericks PR, the injury is being described as a left calf strain. Elsewhere on the injury front, Deron Williams started the game but left early after his calf injury further bothered him. Dirk Nowitzki did not play.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (2-8) play the Memphis Grizzlies (5-5) on Friday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Celtics

    Dirk Leads Mavericks to OT Win

    Dirk Nowitzki scores 31 points and grabs 11 rebounds as the Mavericks beat in the Celtics in overtime.

    Final: Mavs 118, Celtics 113

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Celtics pushed the ball in transition off of virtually every Mavericks miss or turnover. Boston finished this one with 31 fast break points, simply too high a mark. The Mavs have made it a point to work hard to limit transition chances for opponents and have done well this season at just that, but Boston is more aggressive than most clubs when it comes to pushing the tempo the other way.

    We’ve seen Dirk score a lot of points against a lot of teams — he’s sixth all-time in scoring, after all — but the one team he scores more against per game in his career is Boston. Coming into this one, the German averaged 25.9 points against the Celtics, a pretty impressive mark if you ask me. Appropriately, Dirk finished this one with 31 points to increase his scoring average against the green; his success against Boston still speaks for itself.

    Notebook

  • Dirk Nowitzki put the club on his back in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points in the final frame, including six straight at one point. The Mavs rode him hard down the stretch, looking for him to capitalize on mismatches in the post against Jae Crowder and a host of Celtics guards. He even converted a four-point play with a minute and a half left in the game to put Dallas up 94-89. He’d later hit a corner three dagger with under a minute left to secure his first 30+ point, 10+ rebound game since Nov. 11 against the Clippers. (He had zero such games last season.) That Dude’s still got it, guys.

  • Deron Williams took over in the clutch once again, draining a pair of three-pointers in overtime to give the Mavs a lead they wouldn’t surrender the rest of the game. All together, he scored 10 points in overtime alone. It seems like he’s developed a penchant for hitting big shots in a Dallas uniform, coming up huge in several clutch situations this season.

  • Bizarre ending to regulation. With 6.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Celtics down three, Crowder was fouled on a three-point shot and went to the line to tie. Raymond Felton was also injured on the play, so the officials charged the Mavericks with their final timeout. After Crowder made all three shots, Dallas didn’t have a chance to draw up a play to win the game, so the Mavs’ follow-up possession ended with a half-court heave from Zaza Pachulia. An unfortunate break for Felton most of all, but also for the Mavs, in that situation.

  • Dallas opened this game on a 20-4 run, mercilessly attacking the Celtics with an inside-out attack. Wesley Matthews scored 11 first-quarter points, including knocking down three treys. One of Rick Carlisle’s favorite sayings is “it’s a first quarter league,” and he has a point: It’s obviously hugely beneficial when you’re playing from in front rather than coming from behind. Getting off to a slow start not only puts momentum in the opponent’s favor, but it also forces your team to expend more energy just to get back into the game, potentially tiring the players out by crunch time. Dallas has defied that trend many times this year, winning more games after trailing by 10+ points than any team in the NBA. But even Carlisle would confess luck has a bit to do with it, as does the quality of opponent, and the more you play Russian Roulette, the likelier you will eventually fail. And although the Mavs lost last night after leading at the end of the opening frame, the Mavs are now 16-6 this season when holding an advantage after 12 minutes.

  • The Mavs didn’t make their gameplan a secret from the opening tip, using 6-foot-3 Deron Williams in the post against 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas. Williams scored twice in the first few minutes out of those sets, and after missing another shot he got his own rebound and found Chandler Parsons for a wide-open three-pointer. Thomas would later switch over to Parsons for one possession before then guarding Wesley Matthews in the post, who drew a shooting foul on the guard attempting a turnaround. The Mavs have made it a point to attack mismatches in the post all season long, and tonight was another example of that.

  • Dwight Powell got the backup center minutes in this game, in what’s becoming almost a game-by-game surprise. Sometimes it’s Powell, sometimes it’s JaVale McGee, and sometimes the Mavs forego playing a traditional center and roll with a Dirk Nowitzki/Charlie Villanueva frontcourt in an effort to go 5-out. Powell made sense in this game because the Celtics go relatively small off the bench in the frontcourt and keep their bigs on the perimeter. As McGee’s biggest trait is the ability to block shots, it’s awkward territory for him to be consistently defending 25+ feet from the basket. On most nights we’ll probably see McGee as the first center off the pine, but tonight it was Powell.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (24-19) play the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-29) Wednesday at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Celtics

    Final: Mavs 106, Celtics 102

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    After Boston opened up an 18-point lead late in the first quarter, Dallas responded well in the second frame, reducing the lead to as close as 52-45 before halftime. The Mavs shot 4-of-4 from the restricted area during the frame and scored 1.115 points per possession in the quarter, much-improved over their 0.727 mark in the opening stanza.

    One stat the Mavs coaches always look at is catastrophic turnovers — that is, turnovers that lead to run-outs and, more often than not, a 1-on-0 situation with no chance for the defense to contest the shot. The goal is to commit as few of those as possible, but over the course of a game you’ll accidentally make one or two mistakes. The Mavs, though, committed four catastrophic turnovers in the first half alone tonight. Boston plays more aggressive on defense than perhaps any other team in the NBA, and when you go against teams that max it out that way, you have to take care of the ball. The Celts were able to turn those mistakes into seven easy points.

    Notebook

  • Dallas was down 18 in the first quarter. Regardless of the result, it’s an extremely positive sign that the Mavs were able to claw their way back into this one. Many teams might mail it in on the road, but Dallas put its head down and took its first lead on a Deron Williams three-pointer with just over four minutes left in the game. Successful teams find a way to be successful even in adverse situations. Obviously the result makes it better, but either way this is a good sign moving forward for this veteran team.

  • Boston has a very interesting starting lineup, playing undersized by conventional standards at both the center and point guard spots — Jared Sullinger and Isaiah Thomas, respectively, are several inches shorter than their typical assignments. That, and the defensive versatility of Thomas’ backcourt mate Marcus Smart, occasionally makes for some very strange-looking defensive gameplans. For example, the Celtics began the game with the 5-foot-9 Thomas guarding the 6-foot-10 Chandler Parsons before he switched over to Devin Harris once the Mavs guard checked into the game. You don’t get to see a one-foot height difference very often in the NBA. Dallas tried taking advantage of that by posting Parsons up on the smaller player, but Boston attacked him with double-teams in an effort to cancel out any advantage. Then, to begin the second half, the Mavs attacked Thomas in the post and it led to a few Parsons points.

  • Boston’s Kelly Olynyk took Dirk Nowitzki in isolation to end the first quarter. The Celtics big man drove the lane, stopped, and stepped back for a bit of a one-legged fade. Nowitzki was fooled by Olynyk’s fake and gave up a clean look at the basket, but Olynyk’s attempt rimmed out to end the frame. It looked like the two high-fived and exchanged some jokes after the buzzer, as well. Olynyk wears No. 41 in part as a tribute to Nowitzki.

  • Dirk continued his red-hot start to the season, scoring 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Most people would not expect a 37-year-old to do the things Nowitzki has already done this season, but the hope of course is that he’s only getting started. Chandler Parsons got off to a hot start as well, and as his minutes continue to increase, it’s only a matter of time before the Mavs’ two-man game of Parsons and Nowitzki becomes a threat opponents will have to worry about for 48 minutes.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (8-4) play the Utah Jazz (5-5) Friday at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • Mavs acquire four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo

    DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have acquired four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo and center Dwight Powell from the Boston Celtics in exchange for center Brandan Wright, forward Jae Crowder, guard Jameer Nelson, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 second-round pick.

    Rondo (6-1, 186) is an eight-year guard who has spent his entire professional career with the Celtics. In addition to being a four-time NBA All-Star (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), Rondo has been named All-NBA Defensive Team four times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), All-NBA Third Team (2012) and was the starting point guard on Boston’s 2008 NBA Championship team. He has played in 527 career games (474 starts) and holds averages of 11.0 points, 8.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 32.9 minutes per game.

    The veteran point guard also has extensive postseason experience having competed in two NBA Finals and starting each of his 92 career Playoff games. Rondo holds postseason career averages of 14.5 points, 9.2 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 38.5 minutes per game.

    Rondo currently leads the NBA in assists with 10.8 assists per game. He led the league in that category in both 2011-12 (11.7 apg) and 2012-13 (11.1 apg). He also holds several Celtics’ franchise assists records including single-season total with 794 assists (2009-10), assists per game with 11.7 apg (2011-12) and assists in an NBA Playoff game with 20 (2011).

    The Louisville, Ky., native was originally the 21st pick of the 2006 NBA Draft after declaring as an early-entry candidate out the University of Kentucky. In just his freshman season as a Wildcat, Rondo set Kentucky’s all-time single-season steals mark with 87 steals in 34 games.

    Powell (6-11, 240) is a rookie center who hails from Toronto, Canada and has seen action in five games this season with averages of 1.8 points, 0.2 rebounds and 1.8 minutes per game.

    A former Stanford University standout, Powell was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 45th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He was originally traded from Charlotte to Cleveland before being acquired by the Celtics in a late-September trade that landed him in Boston, along with John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy, while Keith Bogans was sent to the Cavaliers.

    As a senior at Stanford, Powell was named All-Pac-12 First Team while averaging 14.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He was also named Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year.

    What To Watch For: Mavs vs. Celtics

    Shootaround: Chandler Parsons

    Mavs F Chandler Parsons looks ahead to Monday night's game against Boston, talks about the adjustments he's had to make after joining the Mavs and more.

    Dallas is off to a blistering start to the 2014-15 season. The offense has sizzled to the tune of nearly 110 points per game and more than 120 points per 100 possessions, two marks that are head and shoulders above the rest of the league.

    The Boston Celtics will roll into town this evening, and it’s the type of game the Mavericks must win. The only predictable element of the Western Conference this season is that it is completely unpredictable; much like last season, the standings will change significantly day after day for the next five months. The East, meanwhile, has a much clearer hierarchy. Taking nothing away from the Celtics’ current squad, Boston likely will not be a playoff team this season. And after the C’s played in Houston just the other night, the Mavs must come out looking to put the game away early, much like they did against the Utah Jazz.

    Road teams tend to be more heavy-legged than home teams toward the ends of games, as the wear and tear of travel combined with the mental fatigue brought along by playing away from home take their toll after a while. But if Dallas can jump on Boston early, the Mavs have a chance to lock up an all-important victory without having to worry about more late-game drama like they had in New Orleans over the weekend.

    OFFENSE
    Mavs Offense Celtics Defense
    Points/100 poss. 120.4 (1) 104.8 (13)
    eFG% 56.3 (2) 51.6 (20)
    TOV% 10.0 (3) 17.8 (6)
    Off/Def Reb% 27.5 (12) 74.7 (12)
    FT/FGA .179 (26) .308 (28)

    The only way Boston can slow down the Dallas offense is if perimeter defenders Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart can stay in front of Monta Ellis and the rest of the Dallas backcourt. That task is much easier said than done, as the Mavs have four guards including Ellis who can drive to the rim seemingly at will. Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, and JJ Barea have terrorized defenses this season — the Mavs’ depth at the position allows head coach Rick Carlisle to freely rotate them in and out so they’re always at full speed. Rondo, Bradley, and Smart are all above-average to great defenders, and they have the length and quickness to combat the speedy Mavs guards.

    The frontcourt is where Dallas will find its biggest advantage. The Celtics’ Jeff Green is a fine player, but he’s not the type of defender who can limit Chandler Parsons’s offensive activity. Parsons has found his groove after a slow start against the Spurs, scoring 20.5 points on 51.7 percent shooting since opening night. The Mavs’ biggest luxury this season is being able to rely on more than just Ellis to carry the offensive load should the opponent elect to try shutting him down — that led Parsons to declare opposing teams must “pick their poison” when defending Dallas.

    Similarly, Dirk Nowitzki is primed to have a big night, as well. Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are both talented young players, but neither have the strength and size needed to defend Nowitzki. Dirk will be attempting to bounce back from his 8-of-19 shooting night in New Orleans on Saturday, so look out for a few early play calls to get the Big German going.

    DEFENSE
    Mavs Defense Celtics Offense
    Points/100 poss. 112.4 (27) 105.8 (16)
    eFG% 53.1 (26) 48.7 (17)
    TOV% 15.7 (11) 10.5 (4)
    Off/Def Reb% 69.8 (27) 25.0 (18)
    FT/FGA .207 (10) .161 (30)

    The most important thing to remember about the Celtics’ attack is that Rajon Rondo is an offensive maestro. He conducts player movement and initiates every set with masterful precision, a huge reason why he’s averaged at least 9.8 assists per game five seasons running. Rondo has never been the greatest outside shooter, though his jumper has shown gradual year-to-year improvement throughout his career. Dallas defenders must keep that in mind tonight against the Boston quarterback, because if Rondo can knife his way into the lane with any regularity, the Mavs defense is in trouble. Rondo basically always finds the right pass.

    Logically, that would lead us to fear Boston shooters. The Celtics aren’t a poor perimeter shooting team, although they did go 1-of-25 on three-pointers against the Rockets, the most three-pointers ever attempted in a game by a team with just one make. Bradley and the aforementioned Rondo have struggled with their three-point shot over the years, and the small forward Green shot 34.1 percent from deep last season.

    Boston’s biggest long-range threat is probably reserve Marcus Thornton, who played part of last season with Sacramento before being traded to Brooklyn. The microwave hit seven treys in three games against Dallas in 2013-14, including four in a win last March. In that game, he scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Devin Harris spend some time chasing Thornton around the floor while the Mavs’ other guards worry about Rondo, but it’s a tough choice to make. The Celtics will almost surely need to break at least 100 in order to beat Dallas, which means they’ll need contributions from everyone, up and down the roster. That’s where Thornton comes in. You don’t want him lighting you up for 15, 18 points off the bench.

    One place to look for improvement from the Mavs tonight is in the defensive rebounding category. Dallas has struggled to consistently close possessions on the defensive glass thus far, mostly because that’s what happens when you play against guys like Anthony Davis and Omer Asik. But the Mavs have a major size advantage over the Celtics frontcourt tonight, so I expect the Mavs to limit the C’s on the offensive glass. It especially becomes important if Boston is going to end up taking tons of threes — long shots make long rebounds, which lead either to fast breaks or to deflating second-chance opportunities. That might end up being one of Carlisle’s big focal points tonight.

    On paper, Dallas is the superior team. But as we all know, games aren’t played on paper. That’s an old, tired cliche, but it’s entirely appropriate for tonight’s games. These are the contests the Mavs must take if they hope to reach the 50-win plateau — and, who knows? — it might take 50 wins to make the playoffs this season.