Boston, Massachusetts - The Boston Celtics are no strangers to losing to teams below their weight class in the NBA this season, but they managed to assert their dominance over the Dallas Mavericks in Friday night's game despite some skepticism from fans on this potential due to the fact that Boston would be without Aron Baynes, Robert Williams, Marcus Morris, and, most crucially, Kyrie Irving.
Irving suffered a scratched eye injury on a rebound attempt during Boston's game against the San Antonio Spurs. This caused him to miss the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves and, now, the match with the Mavericks. It's up in the air in terms of when Kyrie will return, but insiders do not anticipate it will become a serious issue for the Celtics star guard. Terry Rozier has been performing respectably in Kyrie's absence. (Additionally, Morris doubts his injury will keep him sidelined much longer.)
Without some of their most effective players this season, Boston still managed to defeat Dallas by a score of 114-93. The roster was extremely well-balanced against a Mavericks team that is 3-17 on the road, en route to Boston improving their record to 23-15. The young guns were back in action as Jaylen Brown led the scoring charge with twenty-one points and Jayson Tatum added eighteen of his own, along with six rebounds. Rozier added eight points after his sixteen point effort against Minnesota while filling in for Kyrie. Marcus Smart added seventeen points and the big surprise came from Gordon Hayward who dropped sixteen off the bench. We've been duped into thinking Hayward was back multiple times this season, but his efforts off the bench seemed like the most confident he's been all season.
Another note in the Celtics' victory came from the fact that this game was the last one in Boston for Dirk Nowitzki, who will retire at the end of the season, barring some improbable NBA Finals matchup. Nowitzki is likely the greatest Maverick of all-time and an iconic NBA player so respect was given in spades from the Boston faithful. He needed just two points to become the all-time leading scorer in the TD Garden in terms of opposing players, but he missed all ten of his shots, unfortunately. Boston fans were sure to wish Nowitzki well on his farewell tour.