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3 things from a Dallas Mavericks win over the Boston Celtics, 95-92

The Mavericks stole the show in Boston.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Boston Celtics 95-92 Sunday afternoon in Boston. Luka Doncic led Dallas with 26 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Jayson Tatum had 21 points for Boston in defeat but needed 23 shots to get there. The win puts the Mavericks within a half game of the Utah Jazz for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

The first half was a slog for both teams. Neither could generate much offense, and the referees let both teams play, not calling many fouls. Luka Doncic was hampered by a tight hamstring he sustained in the first quarter, and looked sluggish the rest of the half.

The Mavericks and Luka came alive in the third quarter. Luka only scored nine points in the first half. He scored 11 in the third. The Mavericks only scored 38 points in the first half. They scored 38 in the third quarter alone.

The Mavericks stormed back from 13 down to take the lead. From there, both teams traded leads down to the final seconds, when Spencer Dinwiddie hit a 3-pointer to take the lead off a Luka assist. Luka was then called for a foul on a Marcus Smart 3-pointer, but it was overturned on a Jason Kidd challenge. Boston got another shot off at the buzzer, but it didn’t fall. The Mavericks somehow pulled off a gritty win.

Here are 3 things from the game:

The Mavericks’ defense keeps them in games they have no business winning

Dallas was stifled early on by the Celtics’ defense. The Mavericks only shot 35% from the floor in the first half. But they kept the Celtics in check on the offensive end as well, only allowing 47 points and holding them to only 40% shooting in the first half.

They continued with the stingy defense in the second half, and when their offense started clicking, they were finally able to overtake the Celtics. This is the type of game the Mavericks would have lost in the last two years. But no more. They stay the course and never quit on the defensive end. It’s led to wins that they probably shouldn’t have picked up.

Maxi Kleber was electric on defense, but hesitant on offense

Kleber is just a nightmare for opponents on defense. Not much of what he does shows up in the box score, but his ability to guard opponents of different sizes and skills makes the Dallas defense as versatile as it is. A lot of people will remember Jaylen Brown’s dunk on Kleber early in the game. But what they should pay attention to is Kleber staying in front of all of Boston’s wings and banging in the paint, fighting for rebounds and protecting the rim.

If Kleber would translate that confidence on defense to his offense, he’d be an incredible two-way player. But for some reason, he just doesn’t trust his shot. Maybe he expends so much energy on defense he feels like his shot will come up short. But he passes up too many shots he needs to take. Kleber taking those shots is critical to the Mavericks’ offense, and if he passes up too many of them, it creates bad shots for other players down the line late in the shot clock.

The Celtics dominated the offensive glass, but it didn’t matter

Just one game after dominating the Houston Rockets on the offensive glass, the Mavericks were outrebounded on the offensive end by the Celtics. Boston outscored Dallas 15-2 in second chance points, as well as outscoring Dallas 46-26 in the paint. But none of that mattered, because the Mavericks outshot the Celtics, hitting 15 3-pointers while Boston only hit nine. It just shows there are multiple ways to win a basketball game, and the Mavericks are doing it in all sorts of different ways.

Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.