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By Patrick Whalen
Sound the alrams Celtics fans because the Boston Celtics are UNDEFEATED IN 2019. Yes the Celtics are now 2-0 to start 2019 as the got their second straight home win against the Mavericks. Coming into the game the Celtics had to deal with the injury bug like they did in the previous matchup down in Dallas, where the Celtics actually fell to the Mavs 113-104. This time the Celtics woul have to deal with having no Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, or Robert Williams along with Al Horford still on a minutes restriction. With these injuries Brad Stevens again had to shake up the starting line up. Terry Rozier got his second straight start in place of Irving and Stevens chose to go with Jaylen Brown in place of Morris and opted to keep Gordon Hayward coming off the bench. Rozier and Brown would join Tatum, Smart, and Horford in the line up.
The Celtics lacking Morris and Iriving again ha dguys step up when needed. Jaylen Brown led the team in scoring with 21 points on 9-15 shooting. Tatum also chipped in with 18 points on 7-21 shooting with 6 rebounds. Tatum got the Celtics going in the first quarter with 10 of his 18 points including 2 from this steal and dunk.
But despite not being the top scored last night Gordon Hayward had the best overall performance for the Celtics for the second night in a row. Hayward was just 2 assist away from his first triple double as he finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists off the bench including this lob to Theis.
The Celtics also got a surprising offensive performance from one Marcus Smart who finished with 17 points on 6-11 shooting including 5-8 from three. Yes you read that right Marcus Smart was 5-8 from three.
Al Horford was also on triple double watch as he finished with 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists and with him still at a 25 minute limit Daniel Theis had a productive night off the bench as he had 8 points and 13 rebounds in 23 minutes (Basketball-Reference.com).
Tatum helped the Celtics jump out to a 11 point lead at the end of the first but thanks to a Lukka Doncic buzzer beater the Celtics led by just 7 at the half.
The third quarter has been a probable for the Celtics recently with giving up their leads but the Cltics defense played probably their best third quarter of the year giving up just 17 points to Dallas and helping the Celtics lead by 16 at the ned of the third. The Celtics would pull away further in the fourth ending up winning by 21 with a 114-93 final score.
Dallas was led by Harrison Barnes with 20 points and rookie sensation Lukka Doncic who had 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. DeAndre Jordan also had a good night with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Late in the game the Garden also gave Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki a standing ovation as this could have been his last trip to Boston. Late in the game the Mavericks were feeding Dirk as even the Celtics and their fans wanted to see the legend make a bucket. Dirk finished the night sadly with 0 points on 0-10 shooting (Basketball-Reference.com). Mike Gorman and Scal even said that if Dirk just got 2 points he would have become the all time leading scorer as an opponent in the Garden.
With the win the Celtics have now split the season series with Mavericks going 1-1. The Celtics now move to 23-15 on the season and are now 4.5 games back of the Bucks for first place in the eastern conference. The Celtics will have the weekend off before resuming their homestand against the Brooklyn Nets who haven been red hot as of late winning 11 of their last 14 games including their last 2 in a row. The Celtics will have to find a way to stop the Nets back court of D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Joe Harris who are all averaging at least 14 points per game. They will also need to find a way to stop Jarrett Allen down low who is averaging 12 points and 8 rebounds a game. Robert Williams (hamstring), Kyrie Irving (eye), and Marcus Morris (neck) are all currently listed as questionalble for Mondays matchup. If all three could be active that could be some mutch needed depth for the Celtics to add back to their bench but if not guys like Rozier, Brown, and Hayward will just have to keep elevating their play until they return. Lets hope the celtics can get their third win in a row against a potential playoff team in the Nets on Monday night at the Garden.