Four Reasons Why Celtics Can Defeat Mavericks In NBA Finals

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The Boston Celtics have gone 0-for-2 in raising Banner 18, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010 and the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals, but this season is different for a number of reasons.

Instead of dealing with an injury to Kevin Garnett or crossing paths with Stephen Curry amid a dynasty run, the Celtics are the top dog. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who have been to five Eastern Conference finals together plus they have Finals experience from just two years ago, have pitched in from the start of the season. The Jays led Boston to an NBA-best 64 wins in the regular season, a 12-2 record throughout the postseason, and once again, have an opportunity to reach the mountaintop.

“We’re in the NBA Finals and we’re also anxious and excited to play that I wish it did start a little bit earlier so we can get after it,” Jayson Tatum told reporters Saturday, per CLNS Media. “A lot of guys who’ve been here before we understand the magnitude of this moment and staying sharp and staying fresh and staying ready.”

Here are four reasons to book the Celtics to raise Banner 18 in the rafters:

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1. Boston’s entering a must-win situation
The pressure is 100%, undoubtedly on the Celtics — plain and simple.

It’s unwarranted to hold the beneficial injury-riddled circumstances that plagued the Heat, Cavaliers, and Pacers against Boston and its well-deserved path to the Finals. But that won’t exonerate a repeat of last season in which under the bright lights, the Celtics crumbled like a house of cards. It’s championship or bust and nothing’s going to change that.

Team governor Wyc Grousbeck refused to encourage a content culture within Boston’s locker room, ordering the front office to unload whoever to acquire the right cast around Tatum and Brown. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens delivered a blockbuster-filled offseason, and the time has come for those acquisitions to make their difference.

2. The Celtics have an experience advantage
Luka Doncic is arguably the most important player of the series. Without the 25-year-old performing up to par, Dallas’ chances dip drastically.

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He’s averaged 28.8 points this postseason — more than anyone on the Celtics or Mavericks — on 43.8% shooting, but Doncic has never reached the Finals. Since blossoming as the prodigal son in Dallas, the Mavericks have struggled to surround Doncic with a competitive enough cast to muster up a deep playoff push in a competitive conference.

Meanwhile… the Celtics stroll into the Finals with all the experience needed.

Tatum and Brown have endured the heartbreak of a Finals defeat, along with several losses in the conference finals. They’ve gone through the postseason wringer, know (very) well what’s at stake, and have all the momentum necessary to add the cherry on top of their playoff run.

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3. Luka and Kyrie, although stellar, don’t bridge the talent gap
Just like the Celtics, the Mavericks, too, earned every right to compete in the Finals after escaping a wild, wild, Western Conference.

Dallas surpassed the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves before booking a date with Boston. Before the trade deadline in February, the Mavericks added P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford to improve their frontcourt — which they both have.

But that — paired with Doncic and Irving — still doesn’t top everything the Celtics did to get their jumpstart on everyone else in the league during the offseason. Boston landed Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, stacking the team’s starting lineup with a three-headed monster — Tatum, Brown and Porzingis — alongside the most lethal defense backcourt force in the NBA — Holiday and Derrick White.

In terms of talent on paper, there’s no debate.

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4. We’ve yet to see the best (and healthiest) of Boston this postseason
Porzingis suffered a strained right calf in Game 4 of Boston’s first-round series against the Heat and hasn’t appeared in the playoffs ever since, leaving Boston to bypass the rest of the East without its 7-foot-2 starting center.

During the regular season, we got an 82-game sample size of what the Celtics look like with a healthy Porzingis running the floor. It was dangerous for opposing teams, electric for Boston, and proved to be exactly what the organization needed since joining Tatum and Brown together.

Sure, Miami didn’t have Jimmy Butler, Cleveland didn’t have Jarrett Allen and partially Donovan Mitchell, and Indiana missed Tyrese Haliburton (twice), but Boston also didn’t have Porzingis for most of its run. The Celtics, with a healthy Porzingis, went 43-14 in the regular season, leaning to their third 20-plus-point scorer for scoring all around the floor and rim protection.

Pending Porzingis is given the green light for Game 1 on Thursday night, the Mavericks could be tasked with fending off a version of the Celtics that’s yet to be fully unleashed this postseason.

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