How Dallas Can Beat Boston in NBA Finals

Dallas Mavericks | Image by Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks | Image by Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks will face off against the Boston Celtics in their first trip to the NBA Finals since the franchise won in 2011, with various aspects of the series standing out as the most important for the franchise to secure its second Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Dallas enters this series as the “away” team for the fourth time in these playoffs. The Mavericks must steal a game in Boston to secure the championship while also performing well in the final minutes of the games in what will likely be an incredibly tight series.

Road Warriors Must Do It Again

The Mavericks entered these playoffs as the fifth overall seed in the Western Conference after finishing the regular season with a record of 50-32, meaning that the team has been the “away” team in every single series during this playoff run.

Despite the majority of NBA teams performing much better on their home court, the Mavericks seemingly take a step up while playing on another team’s court.

Dallas finished the regular season with an identical 25-16 record while playing at home and on the road, with many of its shooting performances being very similar, regardless of where the team played.

This trend took a turn once the Mavericks hit the playoffs, as they have been more efficient across the board in their nine road games when compared to their eight home games.

The Mavericks’ road record is 7-2, but they are just 5-3 when playing at the American Airlines Center. The team shoots more efficiently from the field, behind the three-point line, and at the free-throw line while on the road.

However, winning in Boston will be difficult since the Celtics have shown themselves to be one of the best teams on its home court in the entire league.

Boston finished with a league-leading 37-4 home record during the regular season and has won six of its eight games on its home court during the playoffs.

These improvements from Boston come with an 8.2 offensive rating increase while also shooting more efficiently from both the field and behind the three-point line.

Regardless, the Mavericks must steal at least one of the four potential games in Boston if they want to finish the series with an NBA Championship.

Performance in the Clutch

This series is likely to be filled with games that come down to the final few minutes, meaning the Mavericks must be efficient on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball to close out the Celtics.

Dallas and Boston both finished the regular season as top-performing teams in clutch situations, finishing within the top 10 in offensive and defensive rating in five-point-or-less games with under five minutes left.

The Mavericks finished the year with a league-leading 127.1 rating in these situations while also accumulating a 106.7 defensive rating, which was the ninth-best rating in the league.

Similarly, the Celtics finished with a 120.5 offensive rating and a 105 defensive rating during clutch situations, ranking sixth in the league in both categories.

One difference between the two teams becomes apparent when the games are even closer, with the Mavericks getting somewhat better offensively and the Celtics getting significantly worse offensively in games that are within three points.

Dallas’ offensive rating rose to 130.1 while its defensive rating dropped to 100; Boston’s offensive rating fell to 103.3, and its defensive rating improved to 110.7.

The Mavericks also boast two of the best closers in the NBA in guards Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who have repeatedly come through in the clutch during the playoffs.

During the regular season, Doncic shot 44.8% from the field and 42.9% from the three-point line, while Irving shot a staggering 65.5% from the field and 54.5% from the three-point line in the final five minutes when the score was within three points.

Although Irving’s efficiency has dropped slightly to 41.7% from the field during the postseason, Doncic has increased his efficiency and has made 50% of his attempts.

These numbers jump out even more when compared to the Celtics, who will likely lean on forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum during the closing minutes of these NBA Finals matchups.

Brown shot an impressive 51.6% from the field but made just 20% of his three-point attempts, while Tatum made only 31% of his attempts from the field and 33.3% of his shots from behind the three-point line during the regular season.

Both Brown and Tatum have seen their efficiency drop off during this playoff run, with the former shooting just 42.9% and the latter only making 20% of his attempts.

Dallas will have to come out on top in many of these late-game scenarios to win this series, which will surely have more than a few games that come down to the final few minutes of game time.

The Mavericks have an opportunity to put each of these keys into action tonight at 7:30 p.m. when they open the NBA Finals with Game 1 in Boston, where they will look to take an early 1-0 series advantage and steal home court from the Celtics.

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