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Familiar Faces, Fierce Rivalry: Celtics and Mavericks Tip-Off in NBA Finals

Photo by Unsplash

The 2024 NBA Finals kick off on June 6 between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks. The Celtics will host the first two games, adding to their intense home-court atmosphere as they face off against a tough Mavericks team.

Dallas is led by the dynamic duo of Luka Dončić, a versatile Slovenian guard, and Kyrie Irving, an experienced eight-time All-Star. The Celtics rely on the talents of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, two young players in their prime. These four players have been key to their teams’ playoff success and are expected to be the main contributors in this series. 

Tatum has been Boston’s standout player this season, especially in the playoffs. He leads the team with averages of 26 points, 10.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. Brown closely follows with 25 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. Brown was named the Eastern Conference Finals MVP after Boston swept the Indiana Pacers. He made crucial plays as both a scorer and a playmaker. The Celtics, with a 64-18 record, were one of the best-rounded teams in the league. They boasted an offensive rating of 123.2—the highest in NBA history. 

On the other side, Irving, who had a controversial stint with the Celtics, adds extra tension to this year’s Finals. Irving played two seasons in Boston, from 2017 to 2019, averaging 24.1 points and 6.1 assists per game and led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018. However, his departure to join Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in 2019 left a sour taste for Boston fans. This history adds extra fuel for the Celtics’ players and fans, making the atmosphere in Boston even more electric.

Despite the hostile environment, Irving and Dončić are no strangers to pressure. They have faced tough crowds and challenging opponents throughout the playoffs. Irving has been phenomenal, averaging 25.6 points, 5.2 assists and 5 rebounds per game for the Mavericks during the regular season. He has stepped up his game in the playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference Finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves. In that series, he averaged 27 points on 49 percent shooting, including a 36-point performance in Game 5, which sent Dallas to the Finals.

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Dončić, who led the league in scoring with 33.9 points per game, has continued his impressive play in the postseason. He averaged 32.4 points per game against Minnesota, showcasing his scoring ability from all over the court. 

The Celtics have a couple of key advantages. Jrue Holiday, a crucial player who won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021, is averaging 12.7 points and 4.6 assists in the playoffs while playing strong defense. His defense against Irving will be a critical factor in deciding the series. 

Another potential advantage for Boston is the possible return of Kristaps Porziņģis. He’s a great finisher at the rim, effective from mid-range and beyond the arc and strong defensively, with at least two blocks per game. His presence could be crucial in close games against the Mavericks. 

Dallas needs P.J. Washington Jr. and Daniel Gafford to step up to support Dončić and Irving in the paint. After seeing Washington and Gafford battle the Wolves’ formidable frontcourt of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, they are effective pieces in this playoff battle. If these players perform well, the Mavericks will have a strong chance of winning the series and preventing the Celtics from claiming their 18th title.

The 2024 NBA Finals promises to be a thrilling showdown between two talented teams. I personally have the Mavericks winning the finals this year, but only time will tell. The stars on both sides will play extremely pivotal roles, and the intensity of the games, especially with Boston’s passionate fan base, will make for an unforgettable series.

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