As with a lot of Mavs games, this was a tale of two halves. This game was never in question in the first half, with Dallas looking comfortably in control the entire time. Unfortunately, Boston is a pretty good team that wins games based on all that annoying grit and effort.... and they seemed to remember that at half time. The Celtics out-worked the Mavs for most of the second half, but in the end, the good guys did just enough to get it to overtime and win the damn thing.
Which is good because:
Dallas really needed this win
The Mavs have lost 3 of their last 4 and 4 of their last 6. Last night, they were absolutely destroyed in demoralizing fashion by their biggest rivals. They came out fighting hard tonight, which is what you want to see from a team in the position I just described.
But then where the hell did that effort go in the second half? I give the Celtics defense a lot of credit for that second half. Those dudes never quit. They just keep coming at you, and they clearly frustrated the Mavs' offense, especially in the third quarter. Dallas gave them some help though. The offense got stagnant and complacent. There was too much dribbling and not enough passing. Dumb decisions led to dumb turnovers.
But as I will discuss shortly, Dirk never gave up, and slowly his teammates followed his lead at just the right moment.
Dirk recovered nicely
The big German was 2-13 at one point in this game. His shot was just off for much of the night. But as all-time greats are wont to do, he worked through it. Dirk really turned it on when the team needed him to, scoring a bunch of points in the fourth to finish the game with 31 points and 11 rebounds.
Oh yeah, and THEN HE PULLED OFF THE FOUR-POINT PLAY WITH A MINUTE AND A HALF LEFT TO SEAL THE GAME FOR THE HOME TEAM. Well okay... so that didn't happen. Boston kept fighting. Ray Felton fouled Jae Crowder's three point shot for some dumb reason. We got overtime.
But then Dirk and Deron did the damn thing. Deron did the bulk of the work, but Dirk just drilled that corner three to definitively end things. Boston wasn't coming back from that. (Except that they almost did a couple of times and what even was this game??)
Fittingly, Dirk finished the thing off with a series of free throws. But he did have some help....
Deron Williams is a clutch basketball player
DWill hit a couple of huge threes in the overtime. He also found Dirk for a corner three to push the lead to 112-105 with 35 seconds left in OT. (Holy crap Dirk hit a corner three! When that happened, I knew Dallas had finally sealed the deal). I'm not even sure how many of his 20 points came late, but it feels like a lot.
Deron had some nice baskets in the fourth as well. In case you've missed it, he does this fairly regularly. Dude lives for the end of close games. I am so glad Dallas found a way to get their point guard, even if it was a few years later than expected. Without his 20, 6, and 5 tonight, Boston would've pulled this one out.
The inconsistency between halves is becoming a problem
As great as Dirk and Deron were, let's talk a little bit about their max contract cohorts in the starting lineup. Wes Matthews scored 15 points in the first half. He didn't score again after that. Chandler Parsons had a few decent moments after halftime, but not many.
It wasn't just those two guys, but it's kinda fitting that the two guys who are (hopefully) the future of the team after Dirk have these sorts of struggles. This is a team that tends to look radically different half to half and game to game. They can look like world-beaters and then turn around 20 minutes later and look like they completely forgot what basketball is supposed to look like. I honestly don't know how much of this you attribute to these two guys still getting healthy and getting their legs under them. But man, I would love to see one or both of them be just bonkers awesome for an entire game.
The inconsistency is beyond frustrating, but honestly, it's makes it that much more impressive that they found a way to pull out the win.It shouldn't have gotten as close as it did. It definitely shouldn't have gone to overtime. But Dallas survived, and I'm hella proud of them for that.
As a final point, I just want to say that I love Zaza Pachulia. He had 19 rebounds tonight. 19 is my favorite number, and also a lot of rebounds. Go Zaza.