Basketball

Luka Doncic, Mavericks burn Celtics in final seconds: In case you missed it

Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum dueled in Dallas.

Jayson Tatum Celtics
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum drives on Dallas Mavericks forward Reggie Bullock during the first half. AP Photo/Matt Strasen

The Celtics fell in the final seconds to the Mavericks on Saturday, dropping a 107-104 loss in Dallas to close their road trip.

Here’s what happened in case you missed it.

Describe the game in one sentence

The Celtics battled throughout the second half and overcame a massive deficit, only to lose it in the final seconds when a questionable decision to foul gave Luka Doncic a chance to win the game with a bucket (which, of course, he did).

Technically, that’s one sentence.

What was the big storyline?

In the closing seconds, Marcus Smart inexplicably gave a foul against Doncic, resetting the shot clock and giving Doncic a chance to make a brutally difficult 3-pointer over three Celtics defenders.

It’s a shame that will be the storyline, because Jayson Tatum returned to superstar form at a time the Celtics desperately needed him to be a superstar.

Who was the best player?

Luka Doncic — 33 points, 12-for-21, 5-for-10 from 3, nine rebounds, five assists

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Doncic was otherworldly, burning the Celtics repeatedly out of pick-and-rolls. Celtics guards were too small to deal with him in the post, and their bigs stumbled backward away from his dribble moves behind the arc.

Doncic doesn’t look like he’s in particularly good shape, but he’s an unbelievable basketball player.

Jayson Tatum — 32 points, 12-for-19, 6-for-8 from 3, 11 rebounds, two assists

You can’t just choose one of Doncic and Tatum. Tatum had his best game of the season and willed the Celtics into the game, destroying the Mavericks’ attempts to double-team him by finding the open player.

What was the hot take of the game?

The Celtics are good if Tatum is good.

Is it fair?

Yes. Tatum made it clear in the third quarter particularly that he was ready to take the game over, and the Mavericks reacted by double-teaming him. Then Tatum continued to be excellent by moving the ball decisively, which kick-started good offense for the Celtics even in the absence of Brown.

What’s a fun fact for the water cooler?

Celtics not named Jayson Tatum were a catastrophic 3-for-23 from behind the arc. The fact that the Celtics stayed alive as long as they did is a testament to how hard they played in the second half and how good Tatum was.

When is the next one?

The Celtics return home for another crack at the Raptors on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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