The Boston Celtics had their pride hurt a few days ago thanks to a big 150-117 defeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That contest saw a full-strength Celtics squad go up against an opponent that was missing their best player in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but that didn’t seem to matter as the rest of the young Thunder squad played out of their minds.
Five different Thunder players scored at least 21 points in that game, including two of their bench players. The Celtics, on the other hand, just had no answer. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 56 points while Malcolm Brogdon and Payton Pritchard pitched in 17 apiece, but the nine other Celtics that saw game time could only muster up a measly 17 points.
Well, good teams respond well to adversity, and that’s exactly what the Celtics did today against the Dallas Mavericks. Looking focused from the start, Boston raced off to an early lead that they never relinquished. They took the lead for good with 5:22 left in the first quarter and taught a Mavericks team that had won seven-straight games a painful lesson of their own.
The Celtics did not allow Luka Doncic, who had put on an insane display of dominance during their winning streak, to take over the game at any point. The Mavericks’ MVP-candidate finished with 23 points and nine rebounds but was harried into shooting 7 of 23 from the field and 0 of 6 from the free throw line.
Jayson Tatum, who’s got a case for MVP on his own, showed Doncic a little bit of sauce in the game too.
Tatum, who didn’t shoot that well himself as he went 8 of 22 overall, still affected the game in many other ways with a triple-double of 29 points, 14 points, 10 assists, a steal and two blocks with only two turnovers.
Jaylen Brown had a quieter but efficient game with 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He was one of the beneficiaries of Tatum’s playmaking.
More importantly, the rest of the Celtics contributed a lot more to help their two stars. Four other Celtics scored in double figures and everyone got a bucket in the game except for Blake Griffin, who only saw three minutes of action.
The victory put the Celtics’ record to 27-12, which is currently still the best mark in the NBA. They’ll be feeling great after bouncing back so well from their loss to the Thunder, and a response like today is the hallmark of a great team.