Here are my 5 takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ 114-93 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday night at TD Garden:
1. CELTICS FANS ROOTED FOR DIRK: Celtics fans had their eyes on Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki all night. From the time he first got off the bench to enter the game for the first time late in the first quarter, right up until the final buzzer, they were madly cheering for Nowitzki. It was as if he was one of the own players and they wanted to see him do good in what likely may have been Nowitzki’s final game playing in Boston if he retires at the end of this season. From chants of: “Dirk, Dirk, Dirk,” to “We Want Dirk, We Want Dirk, We Want Dirk,” the lovefest went on all night long. So much so that the game became an after-thought.
2. THE BASKET WASN’T KIND TO DIRK: The basketball gods were very cruel to Dirk Nowitzki on Friday night. No matter what he shot – open threes, trail threes, contested threes, perimeter jumpers — the greatest Mavericks’ player of all-time couldn’t get anything to fall. Even Celtics coach Brad Stevens was rooting for Nowitzki to make a basket. Nowitzki only needed two points to past Kobe Bryant and become the Western Conference player to score the most points in games played in Boston. However, Nowitzki attempted 10 shots – including eight 3-pointers – and none of them managed to go through the nets. It was only the ninth time in his career Nowitzki went scoreless in a game.
3. DEANDRE DOMINATES THE BOARDS: I truly hope Mavs’ fans aren’t taking what DeAndre Jordan is doing around the rim for granted. On Friday, Jordan reached out and grabbed another 15 rebounds. It’s the 17th time this season he’s pulled down at least 15 rebounds in a game, including collecting 20 or more rebounds on six occasions. Jordan now has 33 games – out of 38 – where he’s snatched at least 10 rebounds. As a team last year, individually, Mavs players only did that a combined total of 43 times. I know Tyson Chandler and James Donaldson did some wonderful things on the boards for the Mavs. But Jordan may wind up being the chairman of the boards for this franchise.
4. BARNES STRIKES AGAIN: Sometimes he does it in subtle ways. But once the game is over and you start scanning the stat sheet, you’ll look up and see that Harrison Barns scored 20 points. Such was the case again Friday night as Barnes led the Mavs in scoring with 20 points in only 32 minutes. It’s the 12th time this season he’s scored 20 or more points in a game. It’s also the 1th time this season Barnes has made four or more 3-pointers in a game. On Friday, the seven-year veteran was 4-of-7 from 3-point territory. And once again, when the Mavs were struggling to find points, all they did was slow it down and get the ball to Barnes on the post.
5. TURNOVERS WERE DEVASTATING: Some folks may not have been in their seats yet before the Mavs were throwing the ball all over TD Garden. The Mavs had already committed five of their 14 turnovers by the time the game was less than four minutes old. That led to an early 14-5 deficit, which turned into a 34-23 deficit by the end of the first quarter when Boston turned six Dallas turnovers into nine points. By the end of the third quarter the Celtics were ahead 84-68 and had flipped 13 Mavs turnovers into 13 points. Catastrophic turnovers often lead to transition threes, layups or dunks, and are just not a wise thing to do if you’re trying to win a game.