The Celtics are on Track for the NBA Final Despite the Magic of Luka Doncic

NBA final
Luka Doncic (Credit: Getty Images)

Luka Doncic played a nice game on Thursday and the Dallas Mavericks lost by 18 points to the Boston Celtics. The Slovenian guard played a great game this Sunday and his team came out crestfallen again, this time outscored by seven points (105-98). The Celtics’ team play once again prevailed over the dazzling talent of the Mavericks guard. The team led by Joe Mazzulla is 2-0 in the best-of-seven finals after taking advantage of the first two games at home. The Mavericks will try to find the solutions in Dallas that they have not found in Boston.

In the first match, the local star was the Latvian Kristaps Porziņģis, in the second the outstanding figure was Jrue Holiday, both in defense and attack. The center and the point guard were the two big signings that made the Celtics clear favorites to win the championship ring and when push comes to shove, they are proving their worth, eclipsing even the team’s traditional stars.

Also Read: NBA Legend Bill Walton Dies at 71 Years of Age

On the Mavericks, Doncic could hardly be asked for more. This Sunday he showed off his entire repertoire. Three-point shots, shots to the basket, mid-distance shots after a reverse, assists to his teammates… Maybe he pressed less in defense and failed in the free throws, but he took on the team almost alone and if the Mavericks stood up face for a good part of the game was thanks to the 25-year-old guard, although at the end of the game, he was left alone with the mistakes: “I think my turnovers and my mistakes on free throws cost us the game. So I have to improve in those two categories,” he said.

His first half was spectacular. The Dallas Mavericks star added 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists before halftime and even so, his team went to the locker room three points behind on the scoreboard (54-51). Kyrie Irving was contributing a little more than in the first game when the whistles from the crowd made him lose his temper, but his 10 points were below his level.

The visitors prevailed in the first quarter (25-28) and Boston did not achieve their first lead of the game until well into the second. For the Celtics, the surprising top scorer of the first half was Holiday, with 17 points. It was not enough for him to struggle in defense, but he was inspired in attack with his series of 7 of 9 in field goals, including a triple of his two attempts. Kristaps Porzingis added another 10 points, with 3 of 4 shooting from the field.

Those from Boston arrived with that three-point lead at halftime despite the fact that their two main stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, added only 13 points. If with Doncic at full speed and with Tatum and Brown subdued, the Mavericks were not capable of beating the Celtics, things were difficult to fix. What’s more, Joe Mazzulla’s team, which likes to shoot from the arc so much, had only made three triples out of 15 attempts in the first half, in part because the Dallas team conspired to avoid clear shots from the home team. Curiously, where the Dallas team was losing the game was from the free throw line, where Boston made a total in the first half (13 of 13), while the Mavericks only converted 5 of 11.

In the second half, the Celtics continued to miss three-pointers without stopping, but Tatum and Brown woke up and Doncic slowed down. Thus, by inertia, with collective play in attack and greased marking in defense, the duel began to lean towards the locals without even giving the impression that they were playing a good game.

A three-pointer at the buzzer by Payton Pritchard at the end of the third quarter left the score at 83-74 heading into the fourth quarter. In the final stretch, the Celtics kept the pulse. Doncic, who finished with a triple-double (32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists), showed signs of exhaustion, while Irving was unable to take over. When the Celtics were able to chain two three-pointers in a row, with 3:30 left, the game was virtually over, as the locals were 14 points ahead (103-89). Dallas pressed, getting within 5 points with possession, but a (probably illegal) block by Derrick White and a basket by Brown chased away the ghost of a heroic comeback.

Holiday was the best of the Celtics, with 26 points on a series of 11 of 14 field goals, to which he added 11 rebounds and 3 assists. Jaylen Brown had 21 points and Tatum finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 12 assists. Mazzulla was able to control Porzingis again, who played only 23 minutes, but added 12 points on four of seven shots. Beyond the scoring numbers, the Celtics’ collective defense once again left the Mavericks below 100 points. Dallas had seven consecutive postseason games with at least 100 points before meeting Boston.

The NBA finals now move to Dallas, where the third game will be played this Wednesday (early morning on Thursday in mainland Spain) and the fourth, two days later. The Mavericks need to win at least one of those two games to extend the final, which for now seems very clear in favor of the Celtics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *