The Celtics defeated the Mavericks, 116-106, on Monday to grab their eighth consecutive win. Kemba Walker had 29 points to lead Boston, and Jaylen Brown added 25 points and 11 rebounds — his second straight double-double.
Luka Doncic paced Dallas with 34 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds, but did not have nearly enough help.
During the game, it was announced that Gordon Hayward is expected to be sidelined for six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand.
Observations from the night:
■ The Mavericks took their first lead of the game on a Tim Hardaway Jr. fadeaway with 7:23 left in the fourth, and there were some uneasy rumbles at TD Garden.
But the Celtics had Walker, and the Mavericks did not. Over a stretch of just 1 minute, 10 seconds, Walker hit a 3 from the left arc, a step-back 3, and another 3 from the right corner, helping Boston push ahead, 101-94.
Marcus Smart followed that up with a 3-point play and a 3-pointer, and the lead was never in danger again.
■ Jayson Tatum had the worst offensive game of his career, going just 1 for 18 from the field. He had a few shots rim out early, but the struggles seemed to swell. On one play in the fourth quarter, he passed up a 3-pointer and drove to the baseline, where his usually accurate mid-range jumper thudded off the side of the backboard. It’s actually pretty incredible that the Celtics could withstand a night like that from Tatum and still win somewhat easily.
■ There were clearly long stretches of unsettled play in which the Celtics missed Hayward. Stevens will be looking for combinations that work well while he’s gone, as evidenced by the fact he used 12 players Monday.
■ Although Tatum struggled, Mavs star Kristaps Porzingis had a forgettable night, too. He was 1 for 11 with just 4 points. In the fourth quarter, he consistently tried to post up Marcus Smart on switches, but it didn’t work well. Porzingis twice settled for contested mid-range shots that were never close, then hit Smart with an elbow for his fifth foul.
■ Daniel Theis appeared to hurt one of his fingers just over two minutes into the game. He went to the locker room and was taped up before returning. Then, after another brief stint, he went back to the locker room with a member of the team’s medical staff. But this absence did not last long, either, so it seems that he is fine.
■ Brown was on the verge of having a terrific first-quarter defensive sequence against Doncic, to the point where fans cheered him during the possession. But at the last second, Brown bit on one of Doncic’s pump fakes and committed a foul.
■ On offense, there were no such issues. Brown continues to go at a steady, comfortable pace, and find openings when he pleases. He has clearly improved in all areas of his game, and he’ll be even more of an essential cog with Hayward out.
■ Javonte Green continues to show promise, and make a case for becoming a part of the regular rotation throughout the year. In the first quarter, he soared in for a putback on a missed 3, which is what everyone knows he can do. In the second quarter, he drilled a 3 from the right corner, which is what the Celtics hope he will eventually be able to do consistently.
■ Lobs to Robert Williams just cause problems for opponents. He threw down an easy one just seconds after checking in for Theis, then later soared above Dorian Finney-Smith on a well-defended play and tossed the ball in, thanks to his unusual leaping ability and reach.
■ Enes Kanter, who had missed the last seven games with a knee contusion, made his Garden debut when he checked in with 1:24 left in the first quarter. He received a nice ovation, the kind that showed fans realized it was his home debut.
■ Smart had the highlight of the first half when he ripped the ball away from a Mavericks player under the hoop and slid a nifty no-look pass to Williams for a layup. But he followed that up by committing a foul far from the basket at the other end with 28.7 seconds left, giving Dallas an extra possession that resulted in four more points before the half.
■ In case there was any doubt about whether Tacko Fall is not your typical two-way contract player, consider: The 7-foot-5 center came down to Boston to attend Monday’s game as a fan. Since he was not here as a two-way call-up, he was not able to sit on the bench with the team. So he settled for an even better seat: At midcourt, next to the team’s co-owner, Wyc Grousbeck.