Luka Dončić made shots. Jayson Tatum made plays. The Boston Celtics will take that trade-off every chance they get, and they now hold a 2-0 best-of-seven series lead over Dončić’s Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals because of it.

Box-score disciples will point to Dončić’s triple-double, his game-leading 32 points and the fact that he was 4-of-9 on 3s while the rest of the team was 2-for-17, and put the blame on his supporting cast for Sunday’s 105-98 loss in TD Garden. 

But that’s a selective view of the box score and the performance of someone who finished third in this year’s Most Valuable Player race.

The more prescient will note that Dončić was also two turnovers short of a quadruple-double, and that he killed the Mavericks’ momentum as many times as he started it by coughing up the ball at inopportune moments.

Boston’s defense has certainly been tougher for Dončić to dissect than any he has faced in the playoffs thus far, but what made these turnovers particularly egregious is that at least half of them were of the trying-to-do-too-much variety, and that they led directly to Boston fastbreaks.

Three times he had either no-look, behind-the-back or over-the-head passes picked off. A fourth turnover came on a travel when he held the ball the entire possession stubbornly — and futilely — trying to get a clean look against Tatum.

After two games, he now has as many turnovers (12) as assists. He’s been equally clunky at the free-throw line, going 4-of-8 in Game 2, putting him at 6-for-13 for the series. 

Tatum, conversely, shot the ball terribly, needing 22 field-goal attempts to score 18 points and going 1-for-7 from 3-point range. But it was his aggression attacking the rim — often with Dončić as the primary defender — collapsing the Dallas defense and then finding teammates for open looks or secondary drives that resulted in 12 assists against three turnovers. He was also 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, and the Celtics outscored the Mavs from the line, 19-16, despite having four fewer attempts.

Celtics guard Jrue Holiday, asked after the game about his team-high 26 points on 11-for-14 shooting, said, “Honestly, I think I just got the opportunity. I’d say a lot of it was JT. He was attacking the basket and making the right play. The way he played tonight, the way he led us, getting into the paint, making plays, it was all about him.”

The series continues Wednesday with Game 3 in Dallas. 

[Jaylen Brown against the world: Criticism ‘made me who I am’]

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, “Rebound,” on NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with young onset Parkinson’s, and “Yao: A Life In Two Worlds.” He also has a daily podcast, “On The Ball with Ric Bucher.” Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

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