Celtics Recap: Dallas beats Boston... but just barely

DALLAS -- Another tough night for the Celtics in Texas, but a much better game than the box score would lead you to believe. After a bad loss against Houston this past weekend, the Celtics went into Dallas Monday night and turned in the definition of a Jekyll and Hyde effort.


Green & Bradley: Jeff Green showed up big time tonight and showed again that he can score, and score big. Green shot 50% from the field and 41.6% from three for a total of 35 points on the night. Bradley, after a slow start came alive, put up 32 points, 8 rebounds, and turned in a defensive effort for the ages.

The Offense: With Green’s offensive output combined with strong defense from Bradley, strong bench contributions from Bass, Zeller, Thornton, and Turner, and solid quarterbacking from Rajon Rondo, the Celtics offense is a lot closer to being cohesive than the final scores of the last two games would have you believe.

Three Guard Offense: A big question heading into this season was what was the Celtics going to do with a returning Rajon Rondo, a re-signed Avery Bradley, and a lottery pick point guard in Marcus Smart? One potential answer showed up tonight as Brad Stevens played all three guards with Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green for long stretches during the game.

Avery’s effort on both sides of the ball, Smart’s playmaking and defensive pressure, and Rondo quickly returning to pre-injury form completely changed the game for Boston and made things very challenging for Dallas. You can watch NBA matches live at Paddy Power.

Second Half Resurgence: At half time, Abby Chin asked head coach Brad Stevens what more they could be doing defensively and he responded, “We haven’t been doing much of anything.” That’s about as clear cut as it gets. The Celtics responded by coming out energized, playing with much more aggression, and cutting a 26 point lead to 10 in the first six minutes of the third quarter.

What looked like a another blowout turned into a hyper-competitive contest. The C’s kept the pressure on for the entire second half and made a real attempt at closing the gap. While the result was similar to the game against Houston, these two games could not have been more different. This second half effort against the Mavs would have beat many other NBA teams. Now if they can only translate that into 48 minutes over the next 79 games...

Highlight(s) of the Night: The three guard offense, Marcus Smart going BANANAS in front of his hometown crowd, and the Celtics cutting a 31 point deficit to 4 before a late quarter push by the Mavs sealed it up. All things to be excited about, even in a loss.

Tommy Points: During the Celtics Post Game Show, Tommy Heinsohn emphatically stated, "FOLKS - WE HAVE A BASKETBALL TEAM." We might. That was a really great game.

Gut Reaction: This is a much different Celtics team than we had last season. As the identity of this team becomes more permanent and less of a game to game experiment, this team is going to make a lot more noise than anticipated.

Looking Ahead: The Celtics will go toe to toe against Kyle Lowry and the Raptors back at the TD Garden this Wednesday in an Atlantic Conference matchup. The Raptors are the leading favorite to win the Atlantic Conference this year, so what was once an all but guaranteed W looks like it will be a much more competitive contest for the C’s on the tough road that is Boston’s November schedule.

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor

Photo Source: ESPN