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7 observations following the 97-90 Dallas Mavericks loss to the Celtics

The Mavericks fade late against the league best Boston Celtics

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks fell to 7-18 on the year, following a 97-90 loss to the Celtics in Boston Wednesday night. Kyrie Irving once again proved unstoppable, pouring in 23 points in limited minutes versus Dallas. Harrison Barnes chipped in 19 points and seven rebounds in defeat.

The Mavericks opened the game looking aggressive, with Dennis Smith Jr. getting all the way to the rim on a great drive. The Celtics and Mavericks exchanged baskets for most of the period, with the most exciting action coming in the form of a double technical foul call on Smith and Kyrie Irving, following some intense jawing on an Irving foul of Smith. As has been the case lately, the second unit kept Dallas in the game during the latter half of the quarter as J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki connected on a number of buckets to give the Mavericks a 26-24 lead at quarter’s end.

The second quarter opened with some ugly basketball as a hodge-podge Celtics lineup mucked up the Dallas offense, but were unable to put many points on the board. After Dallas extended the lead to five, the Celtics quickly pulled within one on a pair of three point buckets from Guerschon Yabusele and Abdel Nader. Things bogged down for Boston once again following a Maverick timeout and Dallas quickly found themselves with growing lead following a parade of three pointers. A defensive block party led by Maxi Kleber kept the Dallas lead safe. A Smith drive extended the Dallas lead to 57-47 at the half.

Smith opened the half the same way he opened the game: with a drive all the way to the cup. The Celtics responded with 12-0 run which put the Mavericks firmly on their heels. Dallas turnovers plus threes from Boston saw a 12-point lead turn into a one-point deficit in just over two minutes. The remainder of the period saw the teams exchange baskets, as Barnes took advantage of multiple isolation chances. Boston opted for a weird, offense averse line up to finish the quarter, which allowed the Mavericks to take a 73-70 lead into the final frame.

The Mavericks fell apart in the final quarter, there’s no other way around it. Ugly offense to start the period for Dallas resulted in Boston quickly taking a three point deficit to a seven point lead. The Mavericks would work their way back into the game through Dirk and Barnes jumpers. Following a tough Barnes fade-away to tie the game at 85 each, Kyrie Irving went to work, while the Mavericks missed everything. Dallas scored only two points in the final four minutes and twenty eight seconds (Wesley Matthews hit a pointless three to end the drought) and Boston walked away with a 97-90 victory.

Dennis Smith Jr. sits on the bench for too long at times

Smith had a weird game against the Celtics, if we’re being kind. While he had six assists to just one turnover, he also missed 12 of 16 shots. He’s still figuring out how to get his shot off against NBA level opponents and that’s resulting in a higher number of shots that make me yell at my television.

Here’s what I don’t get though: why Smith ends up sitting for such prolonged periods of time. After playing the first six minutes of the third quarter, Smith sat until the five minute mark of the fourth. That ended up being nearly 30 minutes of real time. He came in cold and looked awful.

Don’t misunderstand, Smith is playing a good volume of minutes (over 28 per game) but they seem to come with large chunks of bench time, which doesn’t feel right. It's something I’d like to understand more.

Kyrie Irving is unguardable

This isn’t breaking news. The Mavericks don’t have the personnel to bother him and ended up having either Smith or Yogi Ferrell on Irving far too often. He isolated both early and got great looks to go down. Later in the game some of his more crazy looking attempts (mainly, the English off the backboard) went down with ease. Dallas let him get going early and he felt more than confident to close the game late.

The Celtics played some weird line ups

While I’m very frustrated the Mavericks lost that game, the Celtics gave Dallas a number of gifts in both the first and third quarters. With Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris missing time with injuries, Celtics coach Brad Stevens got a little creative with his line ups at times. Shane Larkin ended up being the only decent offensive threat on the floor for Boston for long stretches and those times allowed the Mavericks to stay close or build leads in a game that probably shouldn’t have been that close.

Maximillian Kleber is really fun

I really have no idea what his actual position is in the NBA, but anyone who can score 13 points, grab five boards, and swat five shots is really good. Kleber was an early spark plug and played really strong defense on do-everything Celtic Al Horford. Against Boston, Kleber played a vital role in keeping a tight game as close as it was.

Wesley Matthews please stop dribbling

Wes got stripped from behind by Jayson Tatum and it led to an open dunk. Later in the game he literally fell down with no one near him when going to the rim. Please stop putting the ball on the floor. It’s bad for everyone.

Wesley Matthews, action shot
The Office

Tommy Heinsohn is what’s wrong with local announcing

I got stuck with the Celtics broadcast because I don’t live in the Dallas area. So I had to listen to the incessant blathering of lifelong Celtic blowhard Tommy Heinsohn all game. He’s atrocious in every sense of the word. He doesn’t know the opposing team’s players, his commentary is boring and he complains about the refs all game long.

At the end of the contest, each team shot 17 free throws while the Celtics committed three more personal fouls. Hardly an atrocity of refereeing, yet the windbag announcer simply would not shut up about the calls. Heinsohn must be why so many casual Boston fans are so damn homerific about their team.

Thank your lucky stars for Mark Followill and Derek Harper. They are smart, fair, entertaining and really try hard to stay objective.

Are the Mavericks too disjointed offensively?

If you’ve made it this far, you’re a trooper.

Dirk Nowitzki is a good offensive player, as is Harrison Barnes, J.J. Barea, and Dennis Smith Jr. Why, then, does it feel like the Mavericks can’t get points consistently throughout a game?

Barnes is a heck of an isolation player, but unless the Mavericks go to him with a purpose, he’s oddly limited offensively. Dirk shouldn’t have to get his own shot anymore. J.J. is a shot hunter, but defenses are getting better at scheming him and he’s taking tougher shots (or so it seems against good teams). Dennis is still learning how to read a NBA game.

Dallas isn’t as bad as their record, but their offense is really terrible at times. Not scoring more than a single meaningful basket in the final four plus minutes of a game is really unacceptable. They need to figure something out against better teams.