Celtics Crush Mavericks in NBA Finals Opener: Porziņģis Returns with a Bang

Photo Credit: Marty Jean-Louis / 24 Flix News

The Boston Celtics took control of the 2024 NBA Finals with a dominant 107-89 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 on Thursday night at TD Garden. The Celtics unveiled a balanced attack, stifling defense, and a surprise spark off the bench from a returning Kristaps Porziņģis to overpower the Luka Dončić-led Mavericks.

Porziņģis, the former Mavericks star traded away in 2022, stole the show in his first game back since late April. A calf strain sidelined him for most of the playoffs, but he returned with a vengeance. Coming off the bench for the first time since 2017, Porziņģis admitted to pre-game jitters but channeled his energy into a crucial performance. He entered the game late in the first quarter and immediately made his presence felt, scoring eight points in his first five minutes. His defensive impact was equally impressive, swatting away a potential Josh Green dunk and registering three blocks in total.This included denying layup and dunk attempts by Dončić in the pivotal third quarter. Porziņģis finished the game with a solid 8-for-13 shooting performance, including two three-pointers.

“That’s the KP that helped us get to where we are today,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who remained coy about whether Porziņģis would reclaim his starting role. The veteran Al Horford held down the starting center position for Boston,contributing a double-double with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Jayson Tatum, the Celtics’ superstar and Eastern Conference Finals MVP, had a quiet but impactful night with 16 points and 10 rebounds. His defensive prowess was on display, with three key blocks including stifling Dončić attempts. Tatum also chipped in with three steals and six rebounds. Jrue Holiday, another major offseason acquisition for Boston, had a well-rounded performance with 12 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.

The Celtics’ balanced attack overwhelmed the Mavericks. Derrick White provided valuable scoring off the bench with 15 points. Boston’s strength in three-point shooting, which led the league in the regular season, continued. They rained down 16 three-pointers on 41 attempts, showcasing their offensive versatility. In contrast, the Mavericks struggled from deep,connecting on just 7 of their 27 three-point attempts.

“We’ve got to take those 3s away – that’s what hurt us the most,” lamented Luka Dončić, who led the Mavericks with 28 points. “They are the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA, so sometimes it’s really hard to take those away. Especially when they have five guys out there who can all shoot. Obviously, we’ve got to make more. We didn’t make enough shots today to beat them. But we’ve got to be better on both ends.”

In a historic moment, Doris Burke shattered a glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to call a men’s major sports championship game on national television. Burke’s accomplishment on ESPN added another layer of significance to the night, marking a step forward for women in sports broadcasting.

The Celtics have taken a commanding lead in the series, showcasing their defensive prowess and offensive depth.Porziņģis’ return adds another dimension to their already formidable team. The Mavericks will need to make significant adjustments, particularly in defending the three-point line, if they hope to bounce back in Game 2.

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