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Friday, June 7, 2024

The Celtics might be even higher

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After ending with 20 factors, 6 rebounds, and three large blocks in his return, Kristaps Porzingis stated, “I can add extra.”

Thursday night time was a robust efficiency for the Celtics of their 107-89 blowout of the Mavericks in Recreation 1 of the Finals. Luka Doncic had a formidable double-double (30 factors and 10 rebounds), however for essentially the most half, Boston held Dallas in examine with simply 9 assists — Doncic had only one — and 7-for-27 from behind the arc. Gone had been these lob dunks and nook threes that ended up burying the Minnesota Timberwolves. Kyrie Irving scored simply 12 factors on 31.6% taking pictures. Dereck Vigorous III had only one bucket and 5 fouls.

And but, there’s a scary, prevailing sentiment heading into Recreation 2: the Celtics might be even higher.

When requested in regards to the crew’s protection on Doncic, Jaylen Brown stated flatly, “it’s a full crew effort. Luka Doncic nonetheless had 30 and 10. Gotta do a greater job.” It’s laborious to think about being any higher towards the second-place vote getter in MVP voting. The obtrusive stat was his single help in Recreation 1 with Boston hardly ever sending a number of our bodies at Doncic and staying dwelling on his teammates. Nonetheless, there are areas of enchancment heading into Sunday.

Clearly, there’s Jayson Tatum. For essentially the most half, he was stable defensively and completed a +19, however that gained’t cease the critics from pointing to his 6-for-16 taking pictures and 6 turnovers. Kendrick Perkins, love you, massive man, however let’s not make this a factor.

After an identical 7-for-17 in a loss to the Cavaliers, he shot eerily similar video games in Cleveland taking pictures 11-for-25 (2-for-8 from behind the arc, 9-for-9 on the free throw line) in each Video games 3 and 4. It’s a great wager that he’ll keep aggressive and have a giant bounce again in Recreation 2.

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Within the common season, the Celtics lead the league in turnovers at slightly below 12 per recreation. They solely had 12 TOs in Recreation 1, however so a lot of them had been of the boneheaded sort. Misplaced handles within the paint. Loafing passes up 20+. Dallas scored 13 factors off these giveaways. With the Mavericks packing the paint, Boston ought to have the ability to preserve their turnovers within the single digits.

Boston had a good sixteen triples in Recreation 1. That’s been par for the course all through the playoffs with a postseason-high of twenty-two in Recreation 1 towards the Warmth. Nonetheless, they hit 20 or extra in fifteen video games within the common season and gained all fifteen. They had been 27-0 after they hit 18. Once more, with Dallas promoting out and defending the rim, you get the sense that there’s a breakout recreation on the horizon.

To wit, after going simply 4-for-23 towards Cleveland and Indiana, Sam Hauser broke out of his stoop and hit 2-for-3 final night time, including to Boston’s +27 from 3. It’s all a perform of Mazzulla Math and will have been a lot worse. Boston shot fourteen nook threes to Dallas’ three. Jason Kidd vowed to restrict the Celtics open threes and this was simply a median output.

In the long run, Joe Mazzulla was pleased with how his crew responded to the Mavs’ 22-9 run that minimize the lead from 19 to eight to open the third quarter. However whereas it’s at all times a recreation of runs, let’s not do this once more, OK? It felt much less schematic and extra human nature. With three wins left to a championship, that focus should get even sharper.

As Brown says, “each recreation has its personal story.” All season, the Celtics haven’t skipped steps and brought each recreation severely.

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