Boston made a statement when they knocked off the Bucks. The win over San Antonio showed the hot streak wasn’t simply a result of playing bad teams.
Monday’s win was significant, as well. In a different way, though.
While the Celtics were without Gordon Hayward — and will continue to be for the next six weeks — something else unexpected happened. Jayson Tatum threw up enough bricks to build a house, finishing 1-for-18 from the floor (0-for-3 from three).
Still, the Celtics found a way to beat the Mavericks 116-106. (For a complete recap of the Celtics' win, click here.)
Now, it helped that Kristaps Porzingis (1-for-11 from the floor, 1-for-4 from three) looked almost as bad as Tatum on offense. But the big man’s inefficiency didn’t stop Luka Doncic from going off for 34 points. And there were others on Dallas who helped pick up the slack.
So, best player on the floor was a Maverick, one of Boston’s top-two scorers was non-existent and Hayward is out — that does not sound like a recipe for success for the Celtics. This is the type of win that should catch the attention of the entire league.
For all intents and purposes, a good Western Conference team took on Tatum-less and Hayward-less Celtics and still lost by 10.
“It just shows you how talented we are from everybody on this roster,” Smart said. “Those guys go down and everybody else steps up and had their opportunities and took full advantage of it.”
Hayward may be out for a while, but this team isn’t going anywhere.
“Of course it’s going to be tough, trying to make up for a player of Gordon’s caliber,” Walker said. “He’s a great player, but we also have guys who, you know, can do a lot to help this team. And you see JB, he stepped up and played huge. Smart, he’s always going to be him. JT, he didn’t have a great shooting night at all, but he stuck with the game and he’s only going to get better.
“Guys just have to step up their games and that’s just how it has to be, it’s all about the next guy and that’s what it’s going to be for us all year.”