The Boston Celtics nearly came back to beat the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, but Jalen Brunson had something to say about it.

In a 113-108 win, Dallas displayed how good and bad it can be offensively. The good came in the first have with premier perimeter shooting. And the bad followed with poor fourth-quarter defense and untimely turnovers.

A 15-point fourth-quarter lead turned into only a six-point lead with just under four minutes left to play. Everything went wrong for Dallas in the frame offensively. Outside of Brunson, scoring felt impossible. And with Boston going small, turnovers defined Mavericks possessions.

However, timely plays from Luka Doncic and Brunson saved what could have been Dallas’ toughest loss of the year. The Mavericks squandered what once was a 23-point lead en route to a victory today. And though a win is a win, sometimes, when the win isn’t convincing, it feels like a loss. Let’s jump into observations from Wednesday night.

Key observations:

1.) Brunson has reached a new level in his game. When the lights were the brightest Wednesday night, he made crucial plays that changed the outlook of the game. From contested finishes over outstretched defenders to taking charges against Jason Tatum – Brunson did it all.

He ended the game as Dallas’ second-leading scorer with 21 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. It’s no secret anymore, Brunson can ball. And it’s only a matter of time until everyone outside of the Mavericks fan base knows it.

2.) Dallas is defined by its three-point shooting. In the first half, the Mavericks shot 56 percent from behind the arc, making 13 of the 23 shots attempted. And the result was that Dallas outscored Boston 64-45.

In the second half, Dallas’ three-point shooting returned to earth. As a team, the Mavericks shot 37 percent making six of 16 attempts. And the result was Dallas got outscored 63-49. The shooting story of the game is really a tale of two halves, but Dallas outlasted a devastating Boston run.

3.) Doncic makes the amazing look routine. He scored 36 points on the game, making seven of his 11 three-point attempts. The outside jump shot has found consistency for the superstar. When he is making shots, the Mavericks’ offense is nearly impossible to stop. From stepbacks to pull-up jumpers, Doncic can stretch the floor vertically. The next step for him is seeing if he can keep the consistency up from behind the arc in a playoff series.

Looking ahead:

Wins don’t come easy in the NBA. But too often Dallas has made its life more difficult by struggling to close out games. This team’s biggest vices tend to bite it at inopportune times. How much of that is player error versus coaching error? The Mavs won’t get away with horrific late-game quarters in a play-in series, or in the playoffs. Mental mistakes kill teams long before on-court ones do. Wins shouldn’t feel like losses, but this one does. The good news is that Dallas has another opportunity to against New York on Friday.

Related reading on the Mavericks. 

Feature image via David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports.
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