If Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics think they can still make the playoffs, they can’t afford to have offense letdowns like the one they had Sunday night at home against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Celtics shot just 27.1 percent from the field in the first half after shooting 48 percent in their last three wins. They never really recovered until the fourth quarter when they scored 35 points, but at that point it was too late as the Celtics lost 102-91.
Boston entered the game with a three-game winning streak and only four games behind the eighth-seeded Charlotte Bobcats. They still have 29 games to play, but dismal shooting performances like the one we saw in the first half will make it difficult for the team to get on a run and make the playoffs.
After missing the last game due to injury, Avery Bradley returned to the lineup but was abysmal as he shot just 2-for-13 from the field and finished with five points in 18 minutes. Jared Sullinger, who had a monster game in Boston’s last win against Sacramento with 31 points and 16 rebounds, was just 4-for-13 from the field with 11 points and failed to make a 3-pointer on his four attempts from downtown.
Rondo also made his return to the lineup after not playing in the previous game and was one of the few bright spots for the Celtics as he scored 15 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds. Chris Johnson also continued to play well. After the front office made the decision to keep him on the roster, Johnson scored 14 points in just 15 minutes of action. All of Johnson’s points came off three-pointers in the fourth quarter and his excellent shooting helped
Meanwhile, the Mavericks had balanced scoring as six players reached double-figures. Dirk Nowitzki led the team in scoring with 20 points and had an incredible presence on both ends of the floor exemplified by his +24 plus-minus rating. Jose Calderon was also effective, scoring 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists in the win.
Nowitzki started the game off strong after scoring seven of the team’s first eight points. His dominance in the first half would continue as he finished with 15 points in the first two frames.
While Dirk and company were finding the net with regularity in the first half, the Celtics fell in an atrocious slump. Jeff Green, Sullinger, and Bradley combined for just 8-for-34 shooting in the first three quarters. As a result, the Mavericks were able to open up a 24-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics, however, got hot in the last half of the fourth quarter and ended up shooting over 50 percent from the field. Aided by Johnson’s threes, the Celtics cut the lead to nine with 1:18 to go. However, there was too little time left on the clock to make a miraculous comeback.
The C’s could still make a miraculous comeback of other sorts in the Eastern Conference standings. They have less than a three percent chance to make the playoffs according to Basketball Reference. That said, if they shoot the way they did during their three-game winning streak and less like the way they did in the first three quarters of tonight’s game, they could easily raise their chances of making the playoffs.