July 19, 2024

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NBA Finals, Game 4: The Dallas Mavericks pull off a convincing win over the Boston Celtics to extend the series

NBA Finals, Game 4: The Dallas Mavericks pull off a convincing win over the Boston Celtics to extend the series

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball past the Boston Celtics during Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, on June 14, 2024.


With the Boston Celtics taking a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals, it was a must-win game for the Dallas Mavericks, and they won 122-84, extending the series to at least a fifth game.

the Boston Celtics They were just one win away from completing one of the most dominant seasons in NBA history. After finishing the regular season with a comfortable best record of 64-18, Boston went 15-2 in the postseason and was on a 10-game winning streak.

Franchise star Jayson Tatum rebounded from poor performances in Games 1 and 2 with 30 points, six rebounds and five assists in Game 3, while teammate Jaylen Brown had 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Jrue Holiday was undoubtedly the Celtics’ best player in the Finals, especially because of his defensive contributions and the way he guarded Kyrie Irving. His 26 points and 11 rebounds in Game 2 highlight how much he can bring on the offensive end if Tatum or Brown struggle again in Game 4.

The biggest talking point for Dallas in these Finals has been Luka Doncic’s defense — or more specifically, his lack of it.

The Slovenian has allowed players to overtake him at will and appears lost in defensive schemes, something the Celtics have relentlessly exploited all series — and will likely do so again in Game 4.

Dončić remained great on the offensive end in the Finals, but his defensive weaknesses led to him exiting Game 3 with just over four minutes left, just as Dallas had clawed its way back into contention.

Dallas coach Jason Kidd has so far been unable to find a way to stop the Celtics offense orchestrated by Joe Mazzola. Any successful adjustments Kidd finds in Game 4 will be too little, too late.

After going 0-8 from three in Games 1 and 2, Irving rebounded with 35 points in Game 3 and hit four of his six three-point attempts.

When asked about his message to Dončić after Game 3, Irving told ESPN: “You just have to let it breathe a little bit. Let the human emotions come out. Just give him a hug.”

“That’s it, man. It’s easy to just point the finger at him and say, ‘You can be better.’ That’s easy to say. I think he knows that. But, yeah, I repeat, I’ve got his back, we all have his back.

An upbeat Dončić added: “It’s not over until it’s over. We just have to believe.”