Analysis

How #Sweet16 it is — Marcus Smart and the kind of plays that keep a Streak alive.

Marcus Smart Boston Celtics win streak at #Sweet16

Marcus Smart hit 3 of 15 from the floor, committed three turnovers, and had one Celtic fan in the stands covering his face every time he put up a shot.

And, in his vintage Marcus Smart way, he was the star of the game

— or at least, was an indispensable link in a 3-way steal, hustle, save, and 3-pointer that, psychologically, cut the home team’s heart out.

Because Marcus Smart does (and inspires others to do) stuff like this… (video, right.)

Tinkers to Evers to Chance. Kyrie to Tatum to Smart…. and back to Kyrie for a three-point shot that cut a 6-point Mavs lead in half with 3:00 to go in the fourth quarter.

Are you not entertained? — Brian Scalabrine

THAT’S HOW IT’S BEEN for the Boston Celtics, who extended their now-top-25-all-time win streak to 16 games with a 110-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks tonight.

Just when you think the team’s rampage through the NBA can’t get any better, it goes out and finds a new way to extend The Streak. One that’s even sweeter than the game before.

Tonight, #Sweet16, was in an overtime thriller (the first of the streak).

Kyrie Irving set off a neutron bomb on offense — efficiently explosive, scoring 47 points on just 22 field goal attempts.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined for 37 points on 24 shots between them, and gobbled up 9 rebounds apiece. Several of Tatum’s came during a 4th quarter and overtime run that enabled Boston to squeak by a Mavs team that led 87-74 with 7:47 to play.

“Pressure is good — it makes diamonds”

The very fact that it was the Dallas Mavericks, currently in a close race for the #1 ping-pong ball position, added a certain luster to #Sweet16 as well.

For one thing, although the Mavs record doesn’t show it, they’re always a solid fundamental team. Especially under the tutelage of Rick Carlisle.

As the Celtics will now have to expect from every opponent, Dallas played as if they were up against the top-ranked team in the NBA. Come to think of it, going by record, press attention, and most of the sports-pundit power rankings, they were.

As well, with each passing game, the Celtics how feel the pressure of rising expectations from fans, journalists, opponents, and themselves.

Funny thing though: Even as the game wound down and, it seemed, the streak with it, the Celtics didn’t seem to feel the weight of the world. In fact, they seem to be having a good time.

“It’s just fun, man. Just fun, that’s it,” said, postgame. (He was talking about the pressures of crunch time, but the same thing might be said about The Streak.)

“It’s pretty simple. I don’t really see it as a pressure situation. It’s just like playing basketball, man.

War and peace… and winning streaks

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Tolstoy wrote. But in sports, and especially a winning streak, it seems to be almost the opposite.

The win over the Mavs illustrated exactly what streaks (and, not coincidentally, championship runs) look like.

Some ugly wins over inferior teams that play up to the competition. And then (let’s hope) some big blowouts. Some narrow victories on cold shooting, or, in tonight’s case, a sudden outbreak of turnoveritis.

(Boston gave the ball away to the Mavs 17 times in the game. It would have been 18 if not for the infectious hustle of Tatum, Smart, and, on other plays, Brown, Irving, Rozier, and Marcus Morris.)

And that’s what streaks like the #Sweet16 are made of. A killer three that makes headlines here… but also a loose ball that might not there. (Although Celtic fans, connoisseurs that they are, seem to have a healthy appreciation for Smart Basketball.)

In short… plays like this

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Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff is composed of fans, journalists, disbarred attorneys, people laid off by ESPN, and other disreputable types who spend too much time watching basketball -- and loving it. If you'd like to join our merry band, you can post a comment, tweet us at @Celts247, or email us (see the contact page.) The only requirement is that you bleed green.
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