Luka Doncic, Mavericks take aim at ending Celtics’ streak

Luka Doncic, Mavericks take aim at ending Celtics’ streak

Jan 22, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) looks to shoot with Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) defending during the third quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic and the visiting Dallas Mavericks will attempt to end the Boston Celtics’ nine-game winning streak when the teams meet Friday night.

Doncic, the NBA’s leading scorer, celebrated his 25th birthday by collecting 30 points, 16, assists and 11 rebounds during Wednesday’s 136-125 victory over the Toronto Raptors. It was the 11th triple-double of the season for Doncic, who is averaging 34.4 points, 9.7 assists and 8.8 rebounds per game this season.

“Just a normal game — triple-double,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “He was really good.”

Doncic has scored at least 25 points in nine straight games, and surpassed 40 twice during that stretch.

“We have a great team,” Doncic said. “(Against Toronto) our defense was at the top, so we’ve just got to keep going like that.”

Doncic is listed as questionable for Friday’s game with a sprained left ankle.

Kyrie Irving added 29 points for the Mavericks, who ended a two-game losing streak. P.J. Washington finished with 23.

“Shots were just falling, so I was just trying to keep shooting open ones,” Washington said. “For me it’s just finding a rhythm and getting comfortable in each and every game.”

Boston extended its winning streak to nine games with a 117-99 victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday. Jaylen Brown scored 31 points and Jayson Tatum finished with 29 in the win. Tatum had 15 points in the fourth quarter.

The 76ers emphasized guarding the 3-point line, and Boston prevailed despite missing 17 of its 22 3-point attempts.

“Teams are going to play us different ways,” Brown said. “(Philadelphia) took away the 3-point line. Next game or other teams might go zone and try to slow you down, other teams might switch everything. As a student of the game you embrace the challenge. As you get older you start to think the game. You start to see how different coaches like to implement their game plan.

“That’s a part of the journey. Being able to recognize how teams are guarding you, where the advantages are on the floor and regardless of how you feel about anything, you just have to let the game decide where the ball is going to go. You let the game decide where the advantages are.”

The Celtics did most of their damage on the interior, where they had a 64-42 advantage in points in the paint. Boston also outrebounded Philadelphia 56-28.

“We were able to win a different way,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “We’ve never said we have to win (shooting 3s). We always take what the defense gives us and we’re one of the best teams doing that. And that’s kind of our offensive philosophy — take the best shot and find the best shot.”

Friday’s game will be the second meeting between Dallas and Boston this season. The Celtics earned a 119-110 road victory on Jan. 22. Doncic had 33 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in that game, but Boston received 39 from Tatum and 34 from Brown.

“I think this year we’ve done a really good job of staying present.” Tatum said. “We always talk about getting a little bit better every single day. We’re not looking past anybody. We respect every opponent regardless if it’s a national TV game, (NBA League Pass), or their best player is out.”

–Field Level Media

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