Zinged At Tip-off

The Boston Celtics are facing off against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals. The game concluded with a definitive 107-89 victory for the Celtics, a game in which the Mavericks never held a 10+ point lead. This game was notable for the performances of key players such as Luka Dončić, Kyrie Irving, Kristaps Porziņģis, and Jayson Tatum. Each player’s performance and the overall dynamics of the game offer much to discuss. After the first quarter was over I felt like there was nothing more to watch and it only got worse before halftime. In today’s article, we will look at the game quarter by quarter.

First Quarter: Setting The Tone

The Celtics came out with a clear game plan, focusing on tight defense and efficient offense. From the opening tip, Boston’s intensity was evident. They jumped out to a quick lead of more than a couple baskets after just a few minutes. Kyrie Irving, a former Celtic, received a mixed reception from the Boston crowd. However, Irving seemed unfazed, starting the game with sharp ball handling and a few quick points. His offensive prowess was on display, but it was clear that the Celtics’ defense was prepared for him. They rotated well and closed out on his shots, making it challenging for Irving to find his rhythm.

Jayson Tatum started the game aggressively, attacking the basket and drawing fouls. His ability to get to the free-throw line early set the tone for the Celtics. Tatum’s versatility was on full display as he scored from mid-range, beyond the arc, and on drives to the basket. By the end of the first quarter, Tatum had already made a significant impact, helping the Celtics establish an early lead.

Kristaps Porziņģis had a quiet start. The Mavericks’ defense was effective in limiting his touches and keeping him out of the paint. Dallas’ physicality seemed to unsettle Porziņģis, and he struggled to find his shot early on. The first quarter ended with the Celtics leading 37-20, a solid start that set the stage for the rest of the game.

Second Quarter: Maintaining Control

The second quarter saw the Celtics extend their lead, thanks in large part to their bench. Boston’s depth was a significant factor in this game, with players like Derrick White and Jrue Holiday providing valuable minutes and scoring. White’s defensive prowess and ability to hit timely shots kept the pressure on the Mavericks, while Brogdon’s playmaking added another dimension to the Celtics’ offense.

Luka Dončić continued to be the focal point for the Mavericks, but Boston’s defense remained relentless. Dončić was forced into taking tough shots and was often double-teamed when he tried to drive to the basket. Despite his efforts, the Mavericks’ offense seemed disjointed and reliant on individual brilliance rather than cohesive team play.

Kyrie Irving, trying to spark a comeback, showcased his dazzling dribbling skills and hit a couple of three-pointers. However, his solo efforts were not enough to bridge the gap, as the Celtics’ team-oriented approach outmatched the Mavericks’ individual talent. Irving’s attempts to penetrate the defense were met with stiff resistance, and his frustrations became evident as the game progressed.

Jayson Tatum continued to shine, demonstrating why he is considered one of the top players in the league. His scoring was complemented by his playmaking abilities, as he found open teammates for easy baskets. Tatum’s leadership on the court was palpable, and his ability to elevate his teammates’ play was a key factor in the Celtics’ dominance.

Kristaps Porziņģis began to find his footing in the second quarter, hitting a couple of mid-range jumpers and a three-pointer. However, his impact was still limited by the Mavericks’ defense, which effectively neutralized his size advantage. The Mavericks struggled to get Porziņģis involved in pick-and-roll situations, which is usually a staple of their offense.

By halftime, the Celtics had extended their lead to 63-42. The Mavericks were in desperate need of adjustments to get back into the game, but Boston’s control on both ends of the floor made it clear that they were the superior team in this matchup.

Third Quarter: The Tatum and Irving Showdown

The third quarter was marked by a thrilling showdown between Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving. Tatum came out of the halftime break with renewed energy, scoring effortlessly from all areas of the court. His ability to create his own shot and his impressive shooting accuracy were on full display. Tatum’s offensive explosion put the Mavericks on their heels, and they struggled to contain him.

Kyrie Irving, determined to keep his team in the game, responded with a scoring run of his own. Irving’s handles and quickness allowed him to navigate through the Celtics’ defense, and he hit several tough shots to keep the Mavericks within striking distance. However, Irving’s solo efforts highlighted the Mavericks’ overreliance on his scoring, as other players failed to step up.

Luka Dončić continued to battle, but his shooting woes persisted. Dončić’s frustration was evident as he missed several shots he usually makes. The Celtics’ defensive strategy of forcing him into difficult positions paid off, and his struggles were a significant factor in the Mavericks’ inability to mount a comeback.

Kristaps Porziņģis had moments of brilliance in the third quarter, hitting a couple of three-pointers and blocking shots on the defensive end. However, these moments were too few and far between to make a substantial impact. The Celtics’ ability to neutralize Porziņģis’ size and skill set was a testament to their well-executed game plan.

As the third quarter came to a close, the Celtics held a commanding 86-66 lead. Tatum’s 14-point quarter and the team’s overall defensive effort made it clear that they were in full control of the game.

Fourth Quarter: Sealing the Victory

The fourth quarter was a formality, as the Celtics maintained their lead and secured the victory. Boston’s bench continued to perform well, with players like Al Horford and Payton Pritchard contributing on both ends of the floor. The depth of the Celtics’ roster was a key factor in their ability to sustain their high level of play throughout the game.

Luka Dončić, despite his struggles, continued to fight until the final buzzer. He finished the game with a respectable stat line, but it was clear that this was not his best performance. Dončić’s frustration was evident as the game slipped away from the Mavericks, but his effort and determination were commendable.

Kyrie Irving, too, continued to score in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough to change the outcome. Irving’s 12 points were less than impressive, but his lack of support from the rest of the team was glaring. The Mavericks’ inability to find a secondary scorer to complement Irving and Dončić was a significant issue throughout the game.

Jayson Tatum finished the game with a game-high 16 points, along with 11 rebounds and 5 assists. His performance was a masterclass in scoring and leadership, and he was undoubtedly the best player on the court. Tatum’s ability to dominate on both ends of the floor was the driving force behind the Celtics’ victory.

Kristaps Porziņģis ended the game with 20 points and 6 rebounds, but his impact was limited by the Celtics’ defense. Porziņģis showed flashes of his potential, but he was unable to consistently impose his will on the game. The Mavericks will need to find ways to better utilize Porziņģis’ unique skill set in future matchups.

The final score of 107-89 reflected the Celtics’ dominance throughout the game. Boston’s balanced attack, stifling defense, and overall team cohesion were too much for the Mavericks to overcome. The Celtics never relinquished their lead, showcasing their superiority from start to finish.

Takeaways:

  1. Jayson Tatum’s Brilliance: Tatum’s performance was the standout of the game. His scoring, playmaking, and leadership were instrumental in the Celtics’ victory. Tatum’s ability to take over games and elevate his teammates is a testament to his growth as a player.
  2. Kyrie Irving’s Solo Efforts: Irving’s scoring and ball-handling were impressive, but his solo efforts highlighted the Mavericks’ lack of a cohesive team strategy. Irving needs more support from his teammates to contend with top-tier teams like the Celtics.
  3. Luka Dončić’s Struggles: Dončić’s shooting struggles were a significant factor in the Mavericks’ loss. While he contributed in other areas, his inability to score efficiently hampered the Mavericks’ chances. Boston’s defense deserves credit for their effective game plan against Dončić.
  4. Kristaps Porziņģis’ Limited Impact: Porziņģis showed flashes of his potential but was largely neutralized by the Celtics’ defense. The Mavericks need to find better ways to utilize his unique skill set and involve him more in the offense.
  5. Celtics’ Depth and Defense: Boston’s depth was a major factor in their victory. The contributions from their bench players and the overall defensive effort were crucial in maintaining their lead throughout the game. The Celtics’ team-oriented approach and defensive intensity set them apart.
  6. Mavericks’ Lack of Cohesion: The Mavericks’ reliance on individual talent rather than cohesive team play was evident. To compete with the top teams, Dallas will need to develop a more balanced and team-oriented approach.

Here’s the thing folks: If the Mavericks want to have any chance of not getting swept or losing in five games they need to jump out to a 10+ point lead in the first quarter in Game 2 on Sunday. Irving and Dončić absolutely need to carry the offense together through the rest of this series if they want to have a good chance at bringing the title home.

With that… it is time to get ready for Game 2. Let’s go Mavericks.

If you cannot play with them, then root for them

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