The Boston Celtics found themselves surging in the fourth quarter again tonight, only to be undone by their struggles earlier in the game, and eventually end up on the losing end of the contest. With a final score of 113-108, the C’s fall back to two games under .500 and drop back down to the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker all scored 20+ points, but struggled with their efficiency for much of the night, and were ultimately outdueled by Luka Doncic and his 36 point performance. It’s another tough loss for a team that just continues to disappoint this season.
The Celtics managed to stay close with the Mavs in the first quarter despite Luka Doncic dropping in 11 in the frame. The momentum didn’t carry over, as the Celtics would proceed to lose the second quarter 34-20. It seems every game the Celtics labor through one quarter that ends up killing them in the end, and that was the second quarter tonight. The offense was basically just isolation plays that resulted in threes that weren’t falling, which is typically when the C’s are at their worst. It’s frustrating that this is basically a regular occurrence at this point, because if the C’s play just a bit better in this quarter they probably pull out a win.
Boston came out and began to find their footing in the third, but still went into the fourth quarter trailing by 17. Yet in similar fashion to their previous loss against the Pelicans, the Celtics roared back in the fourth quarter, and ended up bringing the game to within two points with 16 seconds left in the game. The Celtics couldn’t find a way to tie the game in the end though, and once again were left searching for answers at the end of the game.
Boston’s miserable second quarter performance certainly hurt them, but their inability to hit from three was the main issue in this one. The Celtics shot 11/47 from behind the arc, while the Mavs shot 19/39 on the other hand. It’s tough to win games when you shoot that inefficiently from three point land, which should further put an emphasis on ball movement and interior scoring. The Celtics lack of ball movement at times resulted in forced shots from three, and allowed Dallas to build up a large double-digit lead. If the Celtics can keep moving the ball around and generating higher percentage looks, it will drastically improve their offensive output.
The Celtics need to consistently play good basketball over the course of a full 48 minutes. Too often they have looked better than other teams for stretches of the game, while also allowing themselves to get trampled in other parts of the game. If they can play like they did in the fourth quarter tonight for the entirety of a game, they can blow teams out of the water. It’s just finding that consistency that has haunted this team, as it always seems like they trade bad quarters with good ones.
The Celtics will try to right the ship with their upcoming matchup against the Houston Rockets on Friday. The Rockets are arguably the worst team in the entire league at this point, and if the Celtics can’t manage to pull out a win here, there’s real cause for concern. As we hoped they would do for tonight’s game, the Celtics can use the momentum they built up from the fourth quarter, and translate it to their game on Friday, hopefully resulting in an easy win against the cellar-dweller Rockets.
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