Mavericks blowout Celtics by 38, force Game 5

Written by: William Petersen

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After dominating in the first three games of the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics had one hand on their 18th championship banner heading into Game 4 in Dallas. Boston has clearly been the better team all playoffs and all Finals but one could argue their stellar form was due for some sort of regression eventually. This regression finally took form on Friday night, after the Celtics came out flat and the Mavericks role players finally showed up in a series that had been missing during the prior three games. The 122-84 blowout by the Mavericks marked the third largest win in an NBA Finals game, 38 points, in a first half that was rounded out by the Celtics tallying the least amount of points in half all season, 35. Dallas’ dynamic backcourt duo in Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic recorded 36 points in a first half that was dictated by lockdown defense from Mavericks’ role players and efficient shot making from their superstars. Boston was due for a poor shooting night, but I am hard pressed to believe that anyone would have expected the soon to be NBA Champions to have such a poor night on both ends of the floor. The series now shifts back to Boston on Monday night for Game 5 in an attempt for the Celtics to finish off the Mavericks in a “gentleman’s sweep”.

The Boston Celtics have finally been brought back to Earth after getting embarrassed in Game 4 in a closeout game that could have immortalized Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in NBA history. The elusive 18th banner will have to wait at least one more game to be raised after Boston came out stagnant and unable to match the energy and efficiency of a Mavericks squad that was playing to see another day. The Celtics’ starters had a short night after waiving the white flag early in the fourth quarter due to their inability to close the massive gap that Dallas created halfway through the first quarter. Jayson Tatum finished with 15 points on 4-10 shooting and 1-4 from beyond the arc while Jaylen Brown only mustered 10 points on 3-12 shooting and 1-5 from three. Boston had major issues dealing with Dallas’ physicality and suffocating defense in an effort the Celtics have not seen all series. The Celtics shot 36.3% from the field and 34.1% from three in a performance that will need to be forgotten quickly if Boston wants to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy in the TD Garden on Monday.

Kyrie Irving left American Airlines Arena smiling after beating the Celtics for the first time since May 2021 in a game that was dictated early by his shot making and ball distribution. Irving finished with 21 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds on 10-18 shooting to support his backcourt companion Luka Doncic who finished with 29 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on 12-26 shooting while going 0-8 from three. The offensive production from Irving and Doncic was a direct result from quality shot making as well as the defensive pressure and tenacity the Mavericks brought to Game 4. Dereck Lively II became the first rookie since Magic Johnson to tally back-to-back double-doubles in an NBA Finals, in an effort off the bench that electrified an already humming Mavericks squad. Dallas still has an enormous amount of work to do in Boston if they want to see this series go to Game 6 but their performance Friday night is the stepping stone they needed to start the journey. The player that rounded out this blowout win was none other than Tim Hardaway Jr. who had not made a shot since May 18th and had not scored a single point in the playoffs until Game 4. Hardaway scored 15 points in 12 minutes after going 5-7 from three, setting a Mavericks’ franchise record for hitting the most threes in an NBA Finals game. The Mavericks restored some confidence in their roster and in Hardaway Jr. who has found himself out of their rotation after struggling to find his shot late in the regular season and into the playoffs. If Dallas is going to push this series to six games they are going to need another full team effort if they want any chance of beating the Celtics in their own building. Look for Boston to come out with a chip on their shoulder in Game 5 and for them to be raising their 18th banner on Monday night if Dallas does not have another near perfect performance.