The Boston Celtics utilized a dominant stretch on the defensive end during their hot start, but the offensive attack is beginning to catch up for the NBA’s top team. The Celtics will try to continue to pile up the points and win their fourth straight when they finish a five-game homestand against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.
Kyrie Irving scored 32 points and Al Horford finished with 20, nine rebounds and eight assists as Boston shot over 50 percent from the floor for the fifth straight time in a 111-100 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. “I think it’s just the work I’ve been putting in. It’s starting to pay off for me,” Horford told reporters. “I feel like we’re starting to find our rhythm as a group, and I‘m finding my rhythm, too.” Boston’s 16-game winning streak earlier in the season included a 110-102 overtime victory at Dallas, which was in the early stages of turning around a dismal start. Since opening 2-14, the Mavericks are 5-3 and they have their second two-game winning streak in that span after Monday’s 122-105 victory over Denver.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Dallas), NBCSN Boston
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (7-17): Harrison Barnes scored 22 points and was part of a Dallas unit that shot a season-high 57 percent and turned the ball over a season-low seven times in Monday’s win. “Our identity just happens to be very gritty on defense and have each other’s backs, and then ball security on offense,” rookie Dennis Smith Jr. told the media after a 20-point effort. “If we do both of those things, we’re gonna win a lot of games.” Reserve guard Yogi Ferrell, who was 5-for-23 from the floor over the previous three games, provided a spark off the bench with 16 points on 7-of-9.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (21-4): Irving and Horford are the veteran stars carrying this unit, but the ease with which rookie Jayson Tatum has taken on a key supporting role continues to impress. “I think his mannerisms are just one that you can’t see if he’s rattled or not,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said after Tatum opened the game with four 3-pointers in as many attempts in the first quarter. “His composure is at a very high level to only be 19.” Tatum finished 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and entered Tuesday leading the NBA at 51.3 percent from long range, including 9-of-13 over a four-game stretch.
1. Irving had a season-high 47 points - including 10 in OT - in the first meeting.
2. Barnes averages 7.6 rebounds on the season but has at least eight in six straight games, including 10 in back-to-back outings.
3. Horford is shooting 65.3 percent at home this season, compared to 48.4 percent on the road.
PREDICTION: Celtics 113, Mavericks 104