Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

  • The NBA is a long, long way from awarding the 2022-23 Most Valuable Player, but Wednesday’s showdown between the Mavericks and Celtics gave us an early head-to-head between the two of the early-season favorites, with the Mavs’ Luka Doncic going against Boston’s Jayson Tatum.

    And if Wednesday was any indication, the early-season advantage belongs to Tatum.

  • In what finished as a 125-112 victory for the Celtics, it was Tatum who led the way for the Green, with a team-high 37 points on 11-for-24 shooting and 13 rebounds in almost 37 minutes of action.

    Tatum was especially clutch in what ultimately became a pullaway second quarter for the C’s, with 16 points on 4-for-8 shooting and what was an entire quarter with Tatum on the floor for Joe Mazzulla’s squad.

  • And though Doncic got his points in the losing effort (42 of them to be exact), the undeniable highlight from Tatum in this game came with a highlight-reel shot block on Doncic in the fourth quarter of action, and with the Mavs in the midst of an improbable comeback attempt.

    Driving to the hoop and looking for a right-handed layup, Doncic appeared to have inside positioning on Tatum and towards the hoop when Tatum leapt and got all ball on Doncic’s attempt to send it out of danger and spring the Celtics the other way, where Jaylen Brown sent an already-thrilled TD Garden crowd through the roof with a three-point make.

    All with Tatum entering the game with a questionable designation due to an ankle injury.

    “His durability, his ability to answer the moment, his ability to be a great teammate, to make other people around him better, to celebrate when the team is playing well,” Mazzulla said of what makes Tatum special. “And you can count on him to play every night, so it’s great.”

    But Tatum’s teammate wasn’t buying the idea that Tatum was going to miss a chance to potentially outshine No. 77 in Dallas.

    “He was gonna play,” Brown said of Tatum after the game. “He was playing. He knew who he was matched up with. He had that game circled. Don’t let him fool y’all. He was playing the whole time.”

  • Nov 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) makes the basket against the Dallas Mavericks in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) makes the basket against the Dallas Mavericks in the first quarter at TD Garden. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Brown provided plenty of support for Tatum in this contest, too, and finished with 31 points on a stellar 13-for-18 (72.2 field goal percentage) shooting performance. It was Brown’s second-best shooting performance of the season, trailing only his 11-for-15 (73.3 field goal percentage) effort in a Nov. 11 win over the Nuggets.

    The game was also a bounce-back effort for Al Horford, who dropped 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting (including four makes from beyond the arc) after going 0-for-9 in Monday’s loss to the Bulls.

    The Celtics will return to the Garden parquet Friday night against the Kings.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.