Talking Points: Celtics lose players, game to Mavs, 89-73

Talking Points: Celtics lose players, game to Mavs, 89-73
February 21, 2012, 3:39 am
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DALLAS Before Monday's game, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers learned that he would be without Rajon Rondo (suspension) for two games.

Once the game began, Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist) went down.

Soon after that, Chris Wilcox (groin) was done for the night.

Injuries continue to be THE dominant theme of the Boston Celtics season.

So does losing, which is becoming somewhat habitual with this team.

The C's have now lost four in a row after falling to the Mavericks, 89-73. Make that six losses in seven games, too.

It's to the point now where the Celtics can't even be considered an average team, especially when they're now officially below-.500 for the first time since a Jan. 29 loss to Cleveland.

Even with the in-game injuries and non-basketball-related absences - Kevin Garnett was not with the team due to a personal matter - the under-manned Celtics managed to stay within striking distance most of the first half.

But as the half wore on, the C's lack of depth began to rear its ugly head.

The Mavericks had too many weapons, with the Dirk Nowitzki inflicting the greatest amount of damage.

Dealing with Nowitzki with a full roster is no easy task.

For Boston, it became damn near Mission Impossible with the two guys who could give Nowitzki the most resistance - Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass - not even in the building.

Garnett was away attending to a personal matter, while Bass is not with the team due to a left knee injury.

It's not all that surprising that Nowitzki almost had as many points at the half (21) as the entire Celtics roster (34). He finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points while Ray Allen chipped in 15 along with five rebounds and three assists.

HOT SHOT: Put it this way. Nowitzki had almost as many points at the half (21), as the entire Boston Celtics team (34). It was about as dominant a game without really trying to dominate the game, as you'll see from Nowitzki. He finished with a game-high 26 points along with 16 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. It didn't help the C's that the Mavs were coming off a loss to New York, and Nowitzki was clearly playing with added motivation.
IN-N-OUT: It's hard to be too critical of Mickael Pietrus who did a phenomenal job rebounding (season-high 12 rebounds) on Monday, but a big part of why the Celtics wanted him so badly was because of his 3-point shooting. On Monday, he was 2-for-6 on 3s which is actually an improvement over his last three games when he missed all 10 of his 3s taken.

SUPER SUB: There's a reason why Jason Terry seems to be a perennial finalist for the top Sixth Man every year. Aside from Nowitzki, no player made the Celtics pay for making a defensive gaffe, more than Terry. He finished with 16 points and six assists without a turnover, and managed to haul in five rebounds.

TURNING POINT: Trailing Dallas 20-17 early in the second quarter, Terry missed a 3-pointer but was able to get the rebound. Eighteen seconds later, Vince Carter scored on a driving lay-up. From there, the Mavs went on a 13-4 run and spent the rest of the game leading by at least 10 points.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 - That would be the number of times Boston led on Monday.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "I've been through this, you've got to be mentally tough. We can't put our heads down, feel sorry for ourselves. We've got to work harder and compete night-in and night-out."- Celtics Captain Paul Pierce.