Celtics dominate Mavericks, take 1-0 series lead in NBA Finals

Written by: William Petersen

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NBA Finals on ABC

The end is near for the 2024 NBA season as the NBA Finals kicked off Thursday night between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics. Dallas won the West after coming into the playoffs as a six seed while Boston showed the league why they had the best record in the NBA and entered the playoffs as the number one overall seed after only losing 18 games during the regular season. Boston’s domination continued throughout this playoff run, only losing two games so far this postseason, carrying this momentum into Game 1 on Thursday night. The Celtics dismantled the Mavericks 107-89 in a game that was dominated by the Celtics starting five and Kristaps Porzingis who came off the bench after missing over a month due to injury. The casual fan would never know that Porzingis was hurt after leaving his imprint on the game with only 21 minutes on the floor. Porzingis finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks in an effort that only helped catalyze an efficient night for the Celtics and a nightmare of a start for the Mavericks. Luka Doncic finished with 30 points on a rough 12-26 shooting from the field and 4-12 from three but his teammates could not give much aid as the rest of the Mavericks roster shot 1-10 from behind the arc. Boston’s depth at guard severely limited the impact of Doncic’s backcourt companion, Kyrie Irving who shot 6-19 from the field and 0-5 from three, which ultimately put the nail in the coffin for the Mavericks on Thursday night.

Dallas will need to make major adjustments after getting blown out in their first finals game since 2011 after their supporting cast did little to none to help out superstar Luka Doncic. Doncic only recorded one assist in a game that the Mavericks struggled to find any offensive momentum after Kyrie Irving continued to struggle against a Celtics team that has now beaten Irving in their last 11 meetings. The Mavericks struggles are apparent in the box score as Doncic scored 30 points while the rest of the Mavericks starters combined for 39 points. The Celtics depth at guard was the major x factor as they were able to switch between four players all night to guard Doncic in Irving who are the heartbeat of this Dallas offense. When Irving and Doncic can combine for 50 plus points a night the Mavericks normally have a solid chance of winning but when Irving cannot find a rhythm and Doncic does not get any support from the rest of their starters, it is hard to believe this Mavericks team can hang with the dominant Celtics. Game 2 should see a Dallas team adjust and hopefully find a more even distribution of scoring in an attempt to regain some control over a series that could quickly get out of hand if Dallas finds themselves down 2-0. Luka will continue to get his share and be the lifeline for the Mavericks when the supporting cast is struggling but his efforts alone will not be enough to beat what has been the best team in the NBA all season.

The biggest question surrounding the Celtics coming into the Finals was whether or not Kristaps Porzingis would be healthy enough to play and make an impact on this series. This question was quickly answered after Porzingis made the most of his 21 minutes off the bench, dropping 20 points on 8-13 shooting from the field and 2-4 from three. Porzingis also made his presence known on the defensive end of the floor, recording three blocks and six rebounds after missing over a month with a lower leg injury. The jolt from Porzingis was reverberated throughout the rest of the Celtics starters, who all finished in double figures in points. Jayson Tatum finished with a 16 point 11 rebounds double-double while Jaylen Brown led the Celtics in scoring, finishing with 22 points on 7-12 shooting from the field. Brown showed his two-way prowess by adding three blocks and three steals to his cumbersome stat line in a win that was dominated by Boston’s depth. It is tough to beat a team when all five starters score in double figures as well as snatching six steals and nine blocks combined in one night. The Celtics continue to show the league why they only lost 18 games all year and only two games this playoffs as the Celtics look to win their first NBA Championship since 2008. I expect Jayson Tatum to score more than 16 points in Game 2 but if Jaylen Brown and the rest of the Celtics’ starters continue to score in double figures, Tatum will not have to carry the offensive load and should find himself lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time in his young career. Dallas is a solid team but if this series goes anymore than five games I will be genuinely surprised. Look for the Celtics to erase their trend of losing Game 2s at home and roll into Dallas with a healthy 2-0 after Sunday night.