Boston Celtics: Cs fall under .500 after loss to Mavericks

Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics lost their second consecutive game on Tuesday night in heartbreaking fashion, as Luka Doncic hit a game-winning three with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. The Dallas Mavericks came away with the victory by a score of 110-107.

The shot by the 21-year old was next to impossible, but that’s why they call it “Luka magic.”

Boston came back ferociously after being down double-digits with only three minutes left, even taking the lead with 35 seconds to go in the game. But Luka did Luka things, hitting back-to-back contested stepback triples to seal the victory for the young Dallas team.

This is by far the most disappointing start of the Brad Stevens era, as the Boston Celtics fall to 15-16 after this defeat. The talent is clearly there at the top of the roster with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but then there’s the rest.

Some nights Kemba Walker is really good, some nights he’s flat-out awful (loss to Pelicans).

The Boston Celtics have a long list of problems

Further down the line, the starting big man rotation of Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis have their ups and downs, but lack consistency as a whole. Theis, in particular, has made one of his last 15 attempts from downtown after catching fire previously.

The deeper bench consists of Grant Williams, Aaron Nesmith, and Payton Pritchard. They all have their flaws and strengths, but lately, they haven’t been making the plays needed from a second unit to win basketball games.

Pritchard especially, similar to Theis, has gotten cold from 3-point land after beginning his career scorching hot. Robert Williams has been the one consistent positive for this second-unit, making positive plays on both ends of the court for the limited action he sees.

Boston is attempting to lessen his minutes on a nightly basis in order for him to stay healthy throughout the season and playoffs, but based on this trajectory the Celtics are traveling at right now, he might need to see more time immediately, perhaps even in a starting role.

As a team, they’re not playing as a cohesive unit for extended periods of time. Sure, they’ll have possessions on offense where the ball moves around and finds the open man under the basket or on the perimeter. However, most of the time the action is either a pick-and-roll or isolation drive from one of the Celtics’ ball-handlers, ending in a contested 10-to-15 foot jump shot.

Boston benefits from having some of the best mid-range shooters in the league in Brown and Tatum, but in today’s day and age, an offense relying on those types of shots will not be successful.

This has been hammered again and again, but for the Boston Celtics to actually succeed in games down the stretch and in the fourth quarter, they need to attack the rim more aggressively.

Whenever they get into the bonus, their offense flows much better and allows for easy points at the free-throw line.

On the other end of the floor, Boston’s defense has been extremely underwhelming in the 2020-21 campaign. On paper, with players such as Brown, Tatum, Marcus Smart, Theis, Thompson, and both Williams’, this defense should be pretty good.

However, they sit in the middle of the pack with a 103.1 defensive rating excluding garbage time, good for 16th in the NBA. This should clearly be much better, and it’s a matter of effort more than anything.

Specifically in this game against Dallas, the Boston perimeter defenders were getting beat on every drive to the rim in the first half. This shouldn’t be happening considering the caliber of players the Boston Celtics have on their roster.

The eventual return of Marcus Smart will most definitely help this issue, but he’s not slated to come back until after the All-Star break.

A lot of fixes need to happen for the Boston Celtics to make a push in the playoffs.

The talent is there, but it’s not looking good right now.