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