The Celtics got off to a fast start Wednesday night against the Mavericks. They built themselves a good margin for error in the first quarter. Their aggressive defense lead to transition opportunities. They also cleaned up the glass, winning the rebound battle. The Mavericks got close in the 3rd quarter, but the Celtics played well in the end of the 4th and put the game away. The Celtics played a great first half, and that’s where we will begin.

First Play of the Game – Bradley 3 from a Thomas/Olynyk Pick and Roll

The Celtics started the game hot and built themselves a nice cushion.

On their first offensive play of the game Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Olynyk run a pick and roll play. The pick and roll draws 3 defenders.

Thomas’ defender is marked with a yellow square.

The two yellow lines show Bradley’s defender moving to help on Olynyk, and Olynyk’s defender moving to help on Thomas.

Thomas is a threat from the perimeter, and is also a threat to drive. The Mavericks can’t afford to let him use the screen and get loose. Olynyk is also a threat whether he rolls or pops. Therefore the play draws 3 defenders, and leaves Bradley wide open for 3. Which he nails.

Rebounding

The Celtics won the rebounding battle 53-32. They were able to accomplish this by crashing the defensive glass hard, with everyone. Bigs boxed out and guards crashed the glass too. Avery Bradley lead the way with 13 rebounds!

Both of these images show multiple Celtics under the glass.

The Celtics need to continue rebounding the basketball with everyone, not just the big men. They did a great job in this game. The Celtics finished with 40 defensive rebounds, and only allowed 5 offensive rebounds.

The Fully Spaced Floor

The Celtics did a great job in the first and 4th quarters of turning defense into offense. While they did not force a ton of turnovers in this game overall, they capitalized on the ones they did force. Also, they forced a lot of missed shots and were able to run off the defensive rebound.

However, when the Celtics were forced to play against a set defense they spaced the floor and generated open looks.

As you can see the Celtics have 5 shooters on the floor. Kelly and Jonas are the big men, and they both shot around 40% from three-point range last season. Isaiah, Rozier, and Bradley are the guards.

The Mavericks are all stretched out to the perimeter, allowing Bradley to find a good look from the corner. Mathews tries to contest, and he is a good defender, but it was too little too late.

4th Quarter Dominance – Great D by all, Great O by Thomas

Barnes thought he had a lane to the rim. However, he used his right hand to dribble the basketball. Smart was on his right side. When you show the ball to Marcus Smart bad things happen. This play lead to an Isaiah Thomas layup, with his right hand.

Everyone probably remembers the nifty pass Isaiah threw between his legs to a streaking Avery Bradley. That play ended with a Bradley dunk. But it began when, of all people, Isaiah Thomas pressured Harrison Barnes and forced a turnover.

Thomas might not be an elite defender. With his lack of height and length, he will always be at a bit of a disadvantage on that end. However, on this play he was aggressive and used his speed to disrupt Barnes and force the turnover.

Then, his unselfishness on the fast break lead to an easy bucket for Avery.

On this play the Mavericks have the ball and are only down 3. The Celtics send a quick double team to Wes Mathews. With the other 3 defenders close enough to the perimeter to contest the shot, this play ends with a miss.

Mathews couldn’t pass the ball into the post over the length of Amir Johnson. And Jerebko is at least superficially close enough to either the basket or the perimeter to contest either shot.

The quick double team is an effective Brad Stevens weapon. He only uses it when an opposing player gets hot.

What the Celtics do is they send a double team as soon as the offensive player receives the pass. If he holds the ball, go for the steal briefly, and then reset your defense. But if you can force him to give up the ball, you’ve already won. And you have a great chance of disrupting the play and forcing a miss.

This shot by Thomas was just absolutely unfair.

Thomas began the play by running a pick and roll with Amir Johnson. The Mavericks decided to double Isaiah off the pick, which given the way Thomas was burning them was totally a smart decision. (Thomas finished the game with 22 fourth quarter points. ) However, Thomas nails the deep three pointer despite the double team.

This play was basically the dagger that put the game away. The Mavericks would only go on to score 4 more points. The Mavericks intentionally fouled a few times to extend the game, but the Celtics made their free throws and the Celtics won 90 – 83.

The First and Fourth Quarter play of the Celtics Won this Game

The Celtics both started this game hot, and closed the game out. The lead they build in the first quarter was instrumental in the win. It allowed them to have some margin for error. The Celtics were then able to weather the storm in the third quarter, and came out punching in the fourth.

This was a good game for the celtics.While the Mavericks haven’t been a successful team this season, they have had the Celtics number in recent seasons. The Mavericks won their last 7 against the Celtics before last night.

The Celtics were able to out-rebound the Mavs. They were able to turn defense into offense. And they were able to close out a close game as a team, and win together.