Takeaway from Dallas Mavericks loss to Celtics: 2. Rim protection
Boston was using the Mavs lack of paint protection to carve them up in the first half. Dallas gave up 70 points in 24 minutes with 26 coming in the paint and 33 beyond the 3-point line. The Celtics were driving into the paint and getting easy buckets or spraying out to open shooters. Their ball movement was a thing of beauty as they built a 21-point edge at the break.
It felt like Boston could not miss on Wednesday night. They moved the ball and had 101 points after just 36 minutes. Dallas found their offense in the second half, but their defense was simply not good enough to defeat the team with the best record in the NBA. There were too many easy shots at the rim and way too many open looks from beyond the 3-point line.
The Mavs were without Maxi Kleber for the fourth straight game, but he alone cannot solve the team’s rim protection. He is certainly a boost on the defensive end of the floor and could have helped to contain Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on Wednesday night, but Dallas needs to step up their defense if they want to make another deep playoff run.
The Mavericks advanced to the conference finals last season on the back of their defense. They held the Jazz to 100 or fewer points in four of the six games in the first round and limited the Suns to their three lowest-scoring games of the season in round two. Their energy and intensity were not there on Wednesday night until the fourth quarter, and that was by far too late against the Celtics.