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Richland Chronicle 5/07/24
Richland Chronicle 5/07/24

ONLINE ONLY: Mavs lose one, win one, stayin’ alive

A recap of Games 3 & 4 of NBA Finals
After+fouling+out+in+Game+3%2C+Luca+has+a+better+night+in+Game+4+of+the+NBA+Finals+as+the+Mavs+avoid+the+sweep.
(Photo/Associated Press)
After fouling out in Game 3, Luca has a better night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals as the Mavs avoid the sweep.

This is part of the ongoing NBA Finals coverage by the Chronicle staff. Check back later for more coverage of future games.

Mavs lose a tough one at home in Game 3

The Boston Celtics beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-99 in a thriller to take a commanding 3-0 lead June 12 in Dallas. The Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who scored 31 and 30 points.  Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving led the Mavs.   Irving finally ended his struggles of Game 1 and Game 2, scoring 35 while Dončić scored 27.

The Mavericks started off hot in a must win game going on a 22-9 run but the Celtics would cut it down to one at the end of the first quarter making it 31-30. At halftime the Mavericks had a one-point lead at 51-50. Dončić and Irving had 20 and 17 while Tatum was the only Celtic above 10 in the first half.  He scored 20 by the end of the half.

In the third quarter, the Celtics took the game way going on a 35-19 run and went into the fourth quarter with a 15-point lead. In the third quarter Jaylen Brown took over scoring 15 in the third alone going 6-9. Brown outscored Dončić and Irving combined as they only managed 14.

In the fourth quarter, the Celtics went on 6-0 run to start the quarter leading by 21. The Mavs took a timeout.  After the timeout, the Mavs went on a 20-2 run cutting the lead down to 3. But that’s as close as it got for Dallas.  Dončić fouled out late in the fourth for only the third time in his NBA career.

The Celtics held on to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.  No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 lead to win.   Only two have taken it to Game 7.  The most recent being The Heat vs Celtics in the 2023 Eastern Conference finals when the Celtics were down 3-0 and then came back to tie the series only to get blown out in Game 7.

Mavs blow out Celtics in Game 4

Facing a dreaded 0-4 sweep in the NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks exploded for a dominating 122-84 home win at the American Airlines Center June 14.  They also recorded the third largest lead in NBA Finals history at 38 points. At one point the margin was up to 48 in the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks dominated from the first quarter. There were two lead changes the whole game and both happened in the first quarter.  Each team had one.   The Celtics’ biggest lead was three points. The first quarter was impressive for the Mavericks as they came out playing very strong defense and offense. An all-around offense has been a struggle for the Mavs. The game before ended with Luka Dončić fouling out in important final minutes.  The supporting players didn’t really seem able to help Dončić and Kyrie Irving out too much in points before that.

That all changed this game.  At about the 5-minute mark the Mavericks took their first major lead of 13 points.  Derrick Jones Jr., a small forward, and Josh Green, a shooting guard, were put in relativity early. In the first quarter Dončić and Irving put on the bulk of the points, while the rest of the team accounted for 13. However, it was really the defense and hustle the non-starters brought to each possession that made a difference in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Mavericks prevented the Celtics from getting most of their shots off. The Celtics would often go inside, get pressured, miss and often lose the rebound to the Mavericks. In the beginning of the third quarter, the Celtics continued to struggle, trying to get the lead down to a manageable margin. The second half felt mostly like a different game.   At about the 7-minute mark in the third quarter, the pace of the game changed.  It felt more like a regular season game than a finals matchup.

Celtics Head Coach Joe Mazzulla benched his starters and played the rest of the game without them. Mavericks Coach Jason Kidd soon followed suit. It was an understandable move by Mazzulla.  Why risk injury to a star player when he had already lost one in Kristaps Porziņģis with only one more win needed to win the series?

The fourth quarter was played without any starters.  The TV broadcast often cut to the Mavericks who would usually play the fourth quarter enjoying the game since the win was most likely theirs since the tail end of the third . At one point reporter Lisa Salters interviewed Dirk Nowitzki in the stands for about two minutes during the middle of the period.

The Mavericks fans were fully into it to the very end being loud for plays from players like Tim Hardaway Jr., who played extremely well getting 15 points. He made four out of five 3-pointers and excited the crowd after scoring back-to-back threes early in the period. The fourth quarter will probably be the least exciting of the series as the lead was too large to recover.

Power forward Dereck Lively played amazing defense and offense, scoring 11-points and the first 3-pointer of his career.  Also, Dante Exum scored 10 points and two threes. Both teams emptied their bench as the clock ticked to the final buzzer. This was an exciting game for Mavericks fans as the win generated momentum that the Mavericks will need if they wanted to stay in the finals, which headed back to Boston on June 17.

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