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Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

  • Another showdown with fellow NBA MVP candidate Luka Doncic, and another top-tier performance from Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum.

    Going at it for the second time this year, Tatum once again outshined Doncic, and did so with his first triple-double of the 2022-23 season, with 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in a 124-95 win Thursday night in Dallas.

  • And for the Celtics, the latest Tatum-led triumph came with what was a strong finish from Boston’s top shooter, with 18 points and seven rebounds in over 17 minutes of action in the second half.

    That second-half performance saw Tatum’s shooting game return to its norm (4-for-9, and makes on nine of 10 free throw attempts) after a first half that saw Tatum miss on nine of his 13 attempts from the field.

    The performance was good for the second triple-double of Tatum’s career.

    “Just had a presence about him,” Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla said of Tatum’s performance. “I think when he has a presence and he has an understanding, he has a motor to affect the game in different ways. Whether it’s screening, handling, offensive rebounds and cutting, or getting to the free throw line. When he plays with that kind of presence, he can affect the game in different ways.”

    “The big games, it’s just like that kid inside of you that grew up wanting to play on national TV and wanting to play in the big games,” Tatum said. “Those are the most fun games, right? Playing against other best teams, against some of the other best players. It just raises your level of competition, your level of focus.”

  • Jaylen Brown once again provided strong support behind Tatum, too, with 19 points behind a 6-for-12 shooting night to go with seven rebounds and three dimes in 29:37 of action.

    But Brown’s impact was felt at the other end of the floor, as he was part of what was a stellar defensive effort against Doncic, as the C’s held the Dallas do-it-all star to 23 points on a 7-for-23 shooting night. His 23 points were his fifth-lowest scoring output of the season, while his three assists were a season-low.

    “I think we did a better job of deciding we were going to take away his assists,” Mazzulla said of the effort against Doncic. “We took away his free throws, we took away his assists, and we took away his three-point shot. We forced him inside for contested twos. I thought we did a good job of that.”

  • Jan 5, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) looks to move the ball past Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the second quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

    Jan 5, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) looks to move the ball past Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the second quarter at the American Airlines Center. (Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)

  • And though the focus in this one came with the head-to-head between Tatum and Doncic, it was the play of the benches that made a big difference early, as the Celtics got 27 points from their bench in the first half of this contest, while the Mavs countered with just two points from their reserves in the opening 24 minutes of play.

    Boston would finish the game with 43 points from their bench, and were led by Malcolm Brodgon’s 15 bench points, with Grant Williams right behind him with a 12-point effort.

    The Celtics will look to keep it rolling Saturday night against the Spurs.

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