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HomeBasketballNBAHow long the Celtics/Mavericks Finals goes is up to Boston

How long the Celtics/Mavericks Finals goes is up to Boston

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The Boston Celtics in the first two games of the 2024 NBA Finals have cut the Dallas Mavericks’ water off.

The Mavericks through two games in the Finals are averaging 93.5 points per game. Dallas hasn’t cracked 100 points in either Finals game. It’s almost 20 points a game less than the 112.4 points the Mavericks averaged in a West Finals win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Boston has done what Minnesota attempted to do to Dallas. The Celtics, with their bevy of rangy, athletic defenders has slowed down Luka Doncic. Sure Doncic is putting up 31/10.5/6 on good shooting splits, but outside of stretches in the third quarter of Game 1 and the first quarter of Game 2, Doncic has been relatively quiet.

Doncic’s teammates aren’t exactly stepping up. Kyrie Irving’s struggles against Boston continue. Irving is 0-12 the last 12 times he’s matched up with Boston. Irving, one of the best offensive players of all time, is having an awful Finals. The mercurial guard is shooting 35% from the field. Irving has missed all eight 3-pointers he’s taken. He looks indecisive with the ball. Irving is missing open shots he’s made in previous rounds.

The Mavericks were efficient on corner 3s in previous rounds. That’s not the case so far in the Finals. Dallas is just 2-for-6 on corner 3s in the championship round. The Mavericks shot 19-for-45 on corner 3s in the west Finals.

The pick-and-roll that worked so well for Dallas on its road to the Finals is non-existent. Mavericks bigs Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II feasted on Minnesota, as the Timberwolves time and time again failed to send traps aggressively at Doncic, which led to easy buckets for the Dallas centers. Lively II didn’t miss a shot in the West Finals. He went 11-for-17 in the last three games of the West semis. Boston has cut the Dallas pick-and-roll off, leading the Mavericks to go 1-on-1 at a rate higher than I’m sure they’d like.

The Celtics have played masterfully on defense. The Derrick White/Jrue Holiday/Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown quartet has done a great 2004 Detroit Pistons impression. Doncic is working for everything. Irving looks lost. The Mavericks’ supporting cast is MIA. Dallas has made several odd miscues. Boston has made a number of steals by simply poking the ball away from behind.

Boston hasn’t had the best series offensively, either, but the Celtics high-end talent has made the difference on both ends of the floor. Tatum has been bad offensively, but he’s contributing in just about every other way. Holiday right now would be my pick for Finals MVP for his combination of strong defense and timely shot making, particularly in Game 2.

It’s too early to say if the series is over. But it looks that way. Doncic has been productive, but he’s laboring due to a number of nagging injuries. He’ll need some help if Dallas is to put up a fight.

Boston is up 2-0 and hasn’t really played that well. Sure, the Celtics got up big in Game 1 and led Game 2 by double digits late. But Boston did the thing it does where it takes its foot off the gas, and falls in love with the 3. The Celtics, though, won Game 2 despite going 10-for-39 from 3.

So Dallas can play better. But so can Boston. How much the Celtics get from Kristaps Porzingis going forward has the potential to play a major role in the rest of the series.

But it’s really up to the Celtics how long this series will go.

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