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2024 NBA Finals Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Dallas Mavericks

One team swiftly finished their series while the other took their time like proper sportsmen. It seemed like both the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks were eager to start the NBA Finals on June 6, giving themselves plenty of time to prepare.

Boston dominated the NBA all season, easily winning the Eastern Conference and securing home-court advantage for as long as they needed, including this upcoming series. On the other hand, Dallas had a decent season with a 50-32 record, which would have put them in second place in the East, just behind New York. However, they were still 14 games behind the Celtics and only managed to clinch the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

The Mavericks had to work hard to defeat the Clippers, the Thunder, and the Timberwolves, showing their potential as contenders for the title. Meanwhile, Boston mostly stayed ahead as favorites throughout the season, although they faced some criticism for occasional losses to the Heat and the Cavaliers, leading to doubts about Jayson Tatum’s performance.

In their two meetings this season, the Celtics emerged victorious against the Mavericks. They first won 119-110 on the Mavericks’ home court on Jan. 22, then secured another victory with a score of 138-110 on March 1 in Boston. This marks Boston’s 23rd appearance in the Finals, while Dallas has reached this stage twice before, with this year’s appearance coming 13 years after their surprise championship win over Miami’s “super team” in 2011.

Series schedule 

Here’s how to watch the Celtics vs. Mavericks Finals: 

Game 1: Mavericks vs. Celtics, June 6 (8:30 p.m., ABC) 

Game 2: Mavericks vs. Celtics, June 9 (8 p.m., ABC) 

Game 3: Celtics vs. Mavericks, June 12 (8:30 p.m., ABC) 

Game 4: Celtics vs. Mavericks, June 14 (8:30 p.m., ABC) 

Game 5: Mavericks vs. Celtics, June 17 (8:30 p.m., ABC)* 

Game 6: Celtics vs. Mavericks, June 20 (8:30 p.m., ABC)* 

Game 7: Mavericks vs. Celtics, June 23 (8 p.m., ABC)* 

Storyline

Battle of the backcourts: For the past few weeks in the playoffs, there’s been talk about the incredible offensive firepower of the Dallas Mavericks’ backcourt, led by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. This matchup is being touted as one of the most potent offensive backcourts in NBA history. Let’s agree on that for now and appreciate the clash between them and Boston’s starting guards.

Jrue Holiday and Derrick White have earned spots on the All-Defensive 2nd Team due to their ability to make life difficult for their opponents on offense. They excel at applying pressure on the ball, which can disrupt Doncic’s decision-making in crucial moments or challenge Irving’s flashy finishes. On the offensive end, Irving seems to have stepped up his game this spring, while Doncic often uses defensive possessions to take a breather.

In the two regular-season matchups, the Dallas duo combined for 112 points, contributing to 51% of their team’s total scoring output. In contrast, Holiday and White managed only 47 points, significantly less. However, when we look at the overall scoring, all the other Celtics players outscored all the other Mavericks players by a significant margin, with a score of 210-108.

How Watch This

The Porzingis Factor: Kristaps Porzingis, Boston’s center, suffered a calf strain in the first round against Miami, and it seemed unlikely he’d return during the playoffs. However, with the challenges posed by Dallas’ big men, his presence might be crucial now.

Dallas boasts players like Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II, who excel at scoring near the rim and are always ready to catch lobs from Doncic. Additionally, Derrick Jones Jr. and P.J. Washington have stepped up their game in the postseason, adding to the frontcourt threat. Al Horford, Boston’s veteran player, has been solid, but at 38 years old, he could use some support.

Porzingis, standing at 7-foot-2 and weighing 240 pounds, brings scoring versatility and shot-blocking ability, both of which could significantly benefit the Celtics. His size and skills deepen coach Joe Mazzulla’s options after several weeks of playoff intensity.

One More Thing to Watch For Each Team 

For the Celtics | Counting by Threes: The Celtics excel at three-point shooting, leading the league in attempts and makes with impressive accuracy. This has continued in the playoffs, where they’ve maintained a perfect record when making 14 or more threes. In contrast, the Mavericks, while solid, haven’t matched the Celtics’ proficiency from beyond the arc, attempting fewer threes per game and rarely reaching the 40-attempt mark.

For the Mavericks | Irving back in Boston: Kyrie Irving’s return to Boston stirs emotions, as his tenure with the Celtics was marked by highs and lows. Despite individual success with two All-Star berths, his departure for Brooklyn in 2019 left a sour taste for Boston fans. Irving has since found stability with Dallas, maintaining a focused and controversy-free approach. However, Boston fans are unlikely to forget past incidents, and Irving may face renewed scrutiny and hostility as the series begins.

1 key number to know

The Mavericks excel at corner threes, averaging 4.9 makes per game, among the top playoff performances in recent history. P.J. Washington leads in total corner threes, with 28 at a 40.0% accuracy, followed closely by Derrick Jones Jr. at 47.4%. However, the Celtics’ defense is tough, allowing only 1.5 corner threes per game, the fewest in the playoffs, and limiting opponents to just 18% of their attempts from the corners.

Pick This

Celtics in six: The prediction is Celtics in six, fueled by their experience, talent, and hunger for a championship. With key players like Tatum and Brown leading the charge, along with home court advantage, the Celtics are poised to claim their 18th title.

Tags: 2024 NBA Finals Series Preview

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