For a while there, it looked like the Celtics were going to hand a third straight Western Conference foe a blowout loss. In the end, it was the C’s who blew an early 18-point lead and collapsed down the stretch.
The Mavericks went on an 11-4 run over a five-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter, turning a tie game into a seven-point lead with 30 seconds remaining. The Celtics had a chance to tie during a frantic final few possessions, but Isaiah Thomas turned it over in transition and Dallas went on to win, 106-02.
Thomas led the Celtics (6-5) with a team-high 19 points and six assists. Jared Sullinger (18 points, 12 rebounds), Avery Bradley (18 points), Jae Crowder (14 points) and David Lee (14 points) also reached double figures. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks (8-4) with a game-high 23 points on 14 shots.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley.
Comfortable in his newfound role as a sixth man, Bradley scored 12 straight points on five consecutive shots, and then dropped a behind-the-back pass to Isaiah Thomas on the next trip down the floor. In the process, the Celtics doubled their lead from nine to 18 and ignited the Garden crowd. When the Mavericks swung the momentum and erased the C’s lead early in the second half, Bradley’s put-back dunk (see below) stopped the bleeding, and his corner 3-pointer stretched the lead back to seven at the end of the third.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Kelly Olynyk.
It’s not that Olynyk was bad. Despite underwhelming numbers (5 points, 3 rebounds), he owned the C’s second-best plus/minus rating behind Isaiah Thomas through three quarters (plus-14). It’s that Olynyk can’t stop fouling folks. After fouling out in 17 minutes against the Thunder on Sunday, Olynyk collected five fouls in his first 10 minutes against the Mavericks, forcing him to ease up on his already lax defense.
VINE OF THE NIGHT: Olynyk tries the Dirk.
Just before the half, Olynyk isolated his idol, Nowitzki, and tried a one-legged fadeaway on the German who made the move famous. It rimmed out as Olynyk explained to a smiling Nowitzki at midcourt: “I had to. I had to.” Nowitzki later showed the Canadian how it’s done, dropping the move in Olynyk’s grill.
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Killer instinct.
If the Celtics are going to make building big leads a thing, they might as well finish the job. On the back of Bradley’s early outburst, the C’s built a 31-13 lead 9:30 into the game. Boasting the best bench in the league, statistically speaking, the Celtics had an opportunity to put the Mavericks away early, but Dallas used a late second-quarter run to close within nine that half, and then used that momentum to erase the C’s lead completely with a Wesley Matthews 3-pointer that tied the game at 56 three minutes into the third quarter.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 100.
The Celtics are 6-1 when holding their opponent under 100 points — their lone loss to the title-contending Spurs — and they’re now 0-4 when allowing teams to reach the century mark. Owners of the league’s third-best defensive rating entering the game (94.2 points allowed per 100 possessions), they hadn’t given up 100 points in a fortnight. Then, the Mavericks shot 51.4 percent and made 29 trips to the free throw line.
@ OF THE NIGHT: