Two days after they slayed a giant, and without their best player no less, the Dallas Mavericks will get right back at it Wednesday against the visiting Boston Celtics.
Without Luka Doncic because of a moderate ankle sprain, the Mavericks banded together Monday and ended the Milwaukee Bucks’ 18-game winning streak in a victory that came on their opponents’ floor.
Now comes home clash against a Celtics team that has been one of the Eastern Conference’s best, but is riding a two-game losing streak.
Doncic provides the Mavericks with 29.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game, so a new central focus was needed against the Bucks. Kristaps Porzingis provided that, collecting 26 points with 12 rebounds.
Dallas also received 13 points and 11 assists from Jalen Brunson, while Seth Curry provided 26 points off the bench. Both Porzingis and Curry were 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
“The NBA is crazy,” Porzingis told reporters after the game. “Anybody can beat anybody, basically. We have high goals for ourselves. That’s one of the best teams in the league right there. We just played hard and were able to get the win.”
The Mavericks had a pair of regrettable defeats to the New York Knicks earlier this season, and another disappointing result against the Portland Trail Blazers in October, but now they can claim an upset victory.
“An 18-game winning streak is a spectacular demonstration of how good a team is,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “But you’re not going to win every game to finish the season. We just felt that if we came out and really concentrated on ourselves and stuck to a pretty simple game plan, we’d give ourselves a chance.”
The Celtics are also looking to give themselves a chance again after defeats to the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers on consecutive nights last week. Boston had five full days off to correct the slide after playing last Thursday.
Kemba Walker scored 29 points Thursday against the 76ers but it was not enough for the Celtics to avoid their first home defeat of the season. They are now 10-1 in their own building after a game in which they led by eight points in the second quarter and by four late in the third.
Walker has scored 23.1 points per game this season, but he has picked that up over the last eight contests. He has averaged 26.75 points in a run that includes a 44-point game against the Pacers and a 39-point contest against the Brooklyn Nets.
Marcus Smart (eye) and Robert Williams (hip) have missed the Celtics’ past three games, with the latter expected to be out for another three weeks. Smart is not likely to play Wednesday.
The Celtics’ five primary players – Walker, Smart, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum – have taken the floor together just five times this season.
“It’s definitely exciting thinking about when we have our full squad, what we can do,” Hayward said, according to the Boston Globe. “We’re kind of just waiting for that day to come where we can all be healthy for extended periods of time.”
–Field Level Media