The Celtics Continued Their Defensive Dominance Over The Mavs To Win Game 2 SuperNayr

The Boston Celtics are two wins away from winning their 18th NBA championship, as they improved to 2-0 in the 2024 NBA Finals thanks to yet another defensive masterpiece in a 105-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks.

As expected after laying an egg early in Game 1, the Mavs came out as the aggressors, jumping out to a 13-6 lead in the opening minutes with Luka Doncic leading the way and getting some assistance from Kyrie Irving.

However, the Celtics would get right back into the game thanks to their defense, as they again walled off the rim from the Mavs and made it difficult for the “others” — which in turn allowed Boston to turn defense into offense, as they had their own issues in the halfcourt.

Much like in Game 1, the only real offensive threat for the Mavs was Doncic, who had 23 points in the first half to keep Dallas attached, even as his teammates struggled from the field around him.

For Boston, it was Jrue Holiday who stepped up in a major way with 17 first half points, as they were similarly ice cold from three but still managed to take a 3-point edge into the locker room.

The two teams would go back-and-forth until the midway point in the third quarter when Boston began to open things up. They held Dallas scoreless for more than three and a half minutes, and in that time they opened up the biggest lead of the game at 12 points. Jayson Tatum was the catalyst for the run on the offensive end, as he struggled with his shooting but was spectacular as a facilitator — and found his way to get some timely buckets when needed.

Boston’s defense was giving the Mavs fits in the third, particularly from their supporting cast, as Holiday and Derrick White hounded the Mavs on the perimeter, while Kristaps Porzingis continued to be a menace in the paint.

The Mavs would continue to hang around, though, as Boston just could never find their stroke from three-point range to put Dallas away. Boston shot 10-of-39 from three, with one of them being a prayer by Payton Pritchard to end the third quarter that pushed their lead out to nine.

Their lead would stay in the 7-13 range for most of the fourth quarter, as Dallas shot equally bad from distance, knocking down just 6-of-26 from beyond the arc. But, to their credit, they hung in there, largely thanks to Doncic, who had 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists on the night.

However, Boston would finally see a couple threes fall late, and went up 14 with three minutes to go on a Derrick White triple (his fourth of the night) and it looked as though they’d cruise to a win.

But things got a bit dicey late thanks to some free throws made by PJ Washington and Derrick Jones Jr., and a Doncic and-one that cut the deficit to five with 80 seconds to play.

From there, a Derrick Jones Jr. block sparked a fastbreak that could’ve cut the deficit to three, but White made another incredible defensive play to block Washington from behind (with a push in the back from Brown that could’ve been called a foul) to effectively ice the game.

From that point, the wind went out of Dallas’ sails and a Brown layup put an end to the drama, as Boston would run out the clock on a seven-point win.

Tatum continued his nightmarish shooting postseason with a 6-of-22 night, scoring just 18 points, but it was arguably the best passing game of his career, as he piled up 12 assists. He didn’t try to force it too often as his jumper wasn’t falling, and made some spectacular reads and finds against doubles to get his teammates great looks. Holiday was a frequent beneficiary, as he had one of the best offensive performances of his playoff career, leading Boston with 26 points and 11 rebounds on 11-of-14 shooting. Holiday was a menace on the offensive glass (four OREBs) and caught Dallas ball-watching to crash the boards and make timely cuts to the basket.

His backcourt running mate was also terrific, as White had 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting (4-of-10 from three), with three steals and two blocks on the defensive end, as he and Holiday absolutely terrorized Irving for the second straight game. Brown, aka the Celtics “best player” per Jason Kidd, had 21 points and seven assists, as he, like Tatum, did well not to force things offensively and made the right reads to get the others involved.

Doncic’s triple-double was one of the few bright spots for Dallas, as they continued to have a hellacious time trying to deal with the Boston defensive. Irving had flashes of production, but mostly found himself stymied by Holiday and White, who continue to do an incredible job of keeping Kyrie in front of them and cutting off his driving lanes off the bounce. The result was a 7-of-18 night for Irving, finishing with 16 points and six assists. That just won’t cut it, especially with the role players struggling with their shot on the road. The non-Luka Mavs went 2-of-17 from three-point range, and while it was a better night offensively than Game 1, they still were stuck in the mud in the halfcourt and heavily reliant on difficult shot-making from Doncic.

Going forward, the Mavs will hope being at home can wake up their shooters (and Irving), but for Dallas to lose a game where the Celtics shot 26 percent from three doesn’t bode well for their chances in this series. The Celtics, meanwhile, will feel like they got away with one in Game 2, as they missed a ton of good looks but managed to keep themselves going by getting downhill and to the free throw line just enough.

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