NBA Finals Film Room: How The Celtics Have Taken Control


The Boston Celtics protected home-court advantage to take a 2-0 lead in the 2024 NBA Finals.

The series now shifts to Dallas where the Mavericks will look to get into the win column.

What the Mavs need to do to get back in the series

Kyrie Irving scored 12 and 16 points in Games 1 and 2, respectively. He has shot 13-for-37 (35%).

As the second option and primary an isolation scorer, if Irving is not making difficult shots in isolation, the ball does not move.

But as the second option, he has the ability to create and hit difficult shots in isolation. He’s also just simply missing open shots.

This is a wide-open catch-and-shoot 3-pointer for Irving that just won’t go down. He’s 0-for-8 from downtown this series.

The Mavericks can also generate more points via postups for Daniel Gafford. Jayson Tatum has been the primary defender on Gafford, allowing the Celtics’ centers to roam as a help defender.

Even though the Mavericks offense rarely run plays for Gafford, they can give the big man a few more post-up touches and take advantage of size.

Gafford also played just 14 and 23 minutes in Games 1 and 2, respectively.

The Mavericks will have to stick with a strategy as they cannot take away as many weapons on the Celtics as they would like.

Dallas may have to commit to switching more and live with Kristaps Porzingis — who is currently dealing with a left leg injury suffered in Game 2 — taking advantage of size mismatch.

No Mavericks defender look to help Irving and they all stay home on shooters.

A combination of staying home on shooters and funneling the basketball less to cut down the Celtics’ 3-point attempts is an adjustment the Mavericks can make.

How the Celtics protected home court

Despite Jayson Tatum scoring just 16 and 18 points in Games 1 and 2, respectively, Boston won Game 1 with ease and won Game 2 convincingly.

One of Boston’s primary keys to success is hunting Luka Doncic and putting the Mavericks in rotation once there is dribble penetration.

The Mavericks have shown little resistance to try to avoid the switch and get Boston to fight the shot clock.

Jaylen Brown calls for the basketball back and Doncic does a nice job cutting off the initial drive.

But once Brown touches the paint, the Mavericks defense collapses and they are in rotation. Irving helps out of the strong-side corner and Doncic does not make the rotation to cover for Irving, leaving Jrue Holiday on a wide open corner 3-pointer.

The Celtics’ five-out offense has negated the Mavericks’ rim protection by putting their guards in the dunker spot.

On another dribble penetration by Brown, Irving commits to stopping dribble penetration but that leaves White for a short corner floater.

On this play, Dereck Lively is on the weak side and could actually commit to sending help to protect the rim. He would have to trust Doncic to either split the two shooters, Porzingis and Tatum, or Doncic rotate to Porzingis and trust PJ Washington to make the next rotation.

But understandably, Lively stays home on Porzingis.

Brown has made tremendously strides as a defender. He’s made momentum-swinging plays for Boston.

As Irving has a straight-line drive, Brown times his jump perfectly. If he leaves his feet early, Gafford has a drop-off dunk in the dunker spot.

But Brown makes an outstanding play to help and reject the layup attempt.

Boston has played as a team; there is no clear out Finals MVP so far.

Credit Boston for executing their gameplan on both ends of the floor. Dallas will have crucial components to solve if they want to get back into this series.

About Mac Pham

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