Boston Celtics win ugly against the Dallas Mavericks, 90-83

Lately, hoping for an easy win for the Boston Celtics has been a risky venture, or so it seems.

Even with star big man Dirk Nowitzki out recovering from a sore achilles tendon, the combined absence of Al Horford (concussion) and Jae Crowder (ankle sprain) and Boston's poor showings over the last two weeks set the stakes much higher than they probably should have been for this game.
Boston quickly asserted themselves, with Avery Bradley drilling a three pointer in the games' first minute, but Dallas' Dorian Finney-Smith answered back with one of his own just seconds later. Some ugly basketball followed with both sides turning it over until Isaiah Thomas managed to set up but not convert an old-fashioned three-point play, drawing the foul from Wesley Matthews.

A steal and assist by Amir Johnson led to another bucket by Thomas, and the lead was pushed to 11-3 by a Bradley layup. Finney-Smith answered back yet again with a dunk off a missed shot by Harrison Barnes. Thomas tried to answer back on the other end of the court, but was rejected by Andrew Bogut. Barnes cut into the lead with another bucket a few plays later only to have Deron Williams foul Marcus Smart, who sunk one of two from the stripe.

More sloppy play continued by both sides until Thomas connected on a three assisted by Smart, followed by a Bradley layup that pushed the cushion back to ten. Barnes and Kelly Olynyk traded buckets, and then J.J. Barea and Jonas Jerebko followed suit. Another Bradley trey pushed the lead to 12, but Mathews responded with one of his own. Bogut fouled Thomas, who missed the first of two, but hit the second, and converted a defensive rebound on the other end of the court into an assist for rookie Jalen Brown's first points of the night. Brown and Barea traded a pair of midrange makes, followed by a block by Terry Rozier quickly stolen back by Barea but lost by Seth Curry as time expired for the first quarter.

The second quarter opened as sloppy as the first, with several misses and turnovers keeping the first bucket - a Curry midrange two - not falling until two minutes had passed, and the next, a layup by Tyler Zeller, not coming until after the nine minute mark. Several more minutes of difficult-to-watch basketball continued, with Curry and Zeller trading baskets and Olynyk scoring off an assist by Bradley to push the lead back to twelve. A pair of Bogut baskets and a Smart near-basket two were marred by several more bad passes and turnovers to finish the half with Boston holding onto an eight-point lead.

The second half did not start out well for Boston, with Barnes stealing the ball from Bradley, and a series of bad passes and turnovers continuing the ugly play until an Olynyk layup and Matthews trey put some points on the board, again nearly three minutes into the third quarter. Olynyk and Jerebko added to the cushion with a couple of buckets, pushing the lead back to eleven, until Olynyk fouled Harrison Barnes, then managed to lose the ball to Finney-Smith.

Another foul by Thomas on Barnes cut Boston's lead to 38-46, who quickly cut it to six with a midrange shot near the foul line. A second three-second violation for Johnson cut the lead to just five for the first time since the first quarter, and former Celt Dwight Powell cut the lead to three with a jumper assisted by Curry. Gerald Green's first points of the night made it a two-possession game again, until a Matthews trey cut the lead to just two.

A Rozier three and a pair of missed shots from the charity stripe by Powell, and two made by Johnson from the same lifted Boston ahead 49-55, with both teams keeping the score close over the next several minutes, with Dallas drawing within three on a Barea bucket answered by a Bradley miss to close the third quarter.

The fourth started off with the first points of the night from Justin Anderson bringing the Mavs within one, then stealing the lead briefly after a pair of free throws by Thomas to put the lead at 60-59 Dallas. Boston would grab it back soon after with a Rozier drive into the teeth of the defense, but a pair of rookie mistakes by Jalen Brown and Barea and Barnes buckets threatened to hand yet another opponent the game in the fourth, putting Boston down one with eight minutes left in the game. Barea seemingly hurt his ankle on a non-contact play, and had to exit the game after writhing on the ground in pain.

Johnson managed to steal the lead back with a layup only to see Smart blow a chance to convert free throws, and Matthews managed to convert one of two off a Rozier foul just moments later to retake the lead. Matthews , Barnes and Thomas would continue exchanging the lead with treys, free throws and layups packing seemingly as much offense into a few minutes of game time as several times that in the first half.

A couple of trips to the free throw line where Thomas converted three of his four attempts gave Boston a sliver of breathing room, followed by treys from Matthews and Thomas and a two-point shot from Bradley put the Celts within striking distance of a much needed win with just over a minute left. A pair of free throws iced by Thomas put Boston up 79-88, and while Dallas managed a dunk by Barnes and a jumper by Curry in the closing seconds, the Mavs never seriously threatened again, and Boston finally managed to get their record back in the black with a 83-90 victory over Dallas.

Boston will next face the Golden State Warriors at home Friday, November 18th.

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