Luka Doncic Outduels Jayson Tatum as Mavericks Hold Off Celtics

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIApril 1, 2021

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, right, is pressured by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks won their second game in a row with a 113-108 defeat of the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at TD Garden.

Luka Doncic posted 36 points—with 24 coming in the first half—for the Mavericks, who improved to 25-21 to hold on to the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

For the 23-25 Celtics, who are hanging on to a playoff spot by a thread, Jayson Tatum logged 25 points with nine rebounds.


Notable Performers

  • Luka Doncic, Mavericks: 36 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics: 25 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL
  • Jaylen Brown, Celtics: 24 PTS, 4 REB, 4 STL
  • Kristaps Porzingis, Mavericks: 19 PTS, 8 REB


Doncic Dominates in 1st Half

The Celtics were chasing the Mavericks as early as the second minute of play, and Doncic single-handedly put things out of reach quickly.

He ended the first half with 24 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field, including an impressive 5-of-6 from three.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

77 from 30 🔥 #MFFL | https://t.co/Uy7fvrbzoV https://t.co/I7PP0LrwkR

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Bully ball 😤 #MFFL | @AcmeBrick https://t.co/v9OWgDgHiX

The Mavericks outshot the Celtics from deep, going 13-of-23 from beyond the arc, but Doncic alone did better than the Celtics from far out, as Boston only hit four of 24 shot attempts from three.

None of the other Mavericks players recorded double-digit scoring in the first half, with Kristaps Porzingis and Jalen Brunson each tacking on nine, but they didn't need to do more than they were already considering Dallas led by as much as 22 points and closed the half up 64-45.

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

Mavericks lead 64-45 at the half Celtics - 4-24 three-pointers Mavericks - 13-23 three-pointers That's all you need to know

gary washburn @GwashburnGlobe

Luka is putting on a show here. #Celtics have NO ONE who can guard him.

The Celtics defense came alive in the middle of the third, limiting Doncic to just seven more points in the frame, but Porzingis was there, bringing his total to 19 to further bury Boston.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

ohhhhhhh my lawwddd 🔮✨ #BANG https://t.co/ttpEgyFFo9

By the end, Doncic's 36 points and eight rebounds, combined with a near-double-double from both Porzingis and Dorian Finney-Smith (11 PTS, 9 REB), helped stave off a late Celtics charge for the win.


Celtics Can't Complete Climb Back

Doncic's strong start put the Celtics behind early, as the team couldn't counter with his offensive power on either side of the ball.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 12 points at the break, while Tatum only had nine, and he had a game-low minus-23 rating at the half.

As for defense, Marcus Smart and Luke Kornet each blocked one shot and Brown had two steals, but the Celtics' small-ball lineup couldn't break the high-flying Doncic.

Days after Evan Fournier had a miserable debut, shooting 0-of-10 from the field, it was Moritz Wagner's turn to have a less-than-ideal start to his Celtics career, as he didn't attempt a shot and turned the ball over twice in his 7:19 on the hardwood in the first half.

Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA

Gotta imagine we're going to see Grant or Kornet here fairly soon. Wagner either doesn't understand how Boston wants to cover PnR or can't execute it.

Jay King @ByJayKing

Moe Wagner with the great hustle ... to save the ball to a wide open Mavericks player for a bucket. Celtics down 74-51. They're now 4 for 27 from the arc. They're shooting 32.7 percent overall. Against the 22nd-best defense.

Boston used an 8-0 run midway through the third to pull in closer, and they started the fourth on a 6-2 run as they eventually made it a 10-point game with under 10 minutes to go—with Tatum and Brown on the sidelines for much of it and Kemba Walker leading the charge.

Kevin Koczwara @kkoczwara

The thing about the Celtics is they try to ramp up the defense later in games and it's hard to stop and NBA team that has confidence. It's too late. (Plus, those third uniforms are hideous.)

Tatum finally got in on the fun late in the game, as he turned two steals into buckets and helped the Celtics as they went on to score five points in eight seconds, giving them a two-point deficit with 16.4 seconds left to play.

But it was just too little, too late. The Celtics ended the night with 41.5 shooting from the field and a mediocre 23.4 percent from three against the eighth-worst defense in the league.


What's Next?

Both teams are back in action Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Celtics will host the Houston Rockets, while the Mavericks will continue their East Coast road swing against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.