Saturday, June 15, 2024

Mavericks 122, Celtics 84: Luka Dončić, Dallas avoid sweep in Game 4 blowout win [BOS leads series, 3-1]

The Celtics missed an opportunity to closeout the Dallas Mavericks Friday, losing 122-84 at American Airlines Center in one of the worst NBA Finals losses ever Friday night.

Luka Dončić led all scorers in Game 4 with 25 of his 29 points just in the first half to go along with five rebounds, five assists and three steals overall. Kyrie Irving added 21 points, six assists and Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 15 points on 5-of-7 from behind the arc off the bench for Dallas, who live to see another day.
"It's real simple. We don't have to complicate this. This isn't surgery," Mavs coach Jason Kidd said in his postgame presser. "Our group was ready to go. They were ready to celebrate and we made a stand. We were desperate. We've got to continue to keep playing that way. They're trying to close the door. The hardest thing in this league is to close the door when you have a group that has nothing to lose. Tonight, you saw that."
Jayson Tatum finished with 15 points and Sam Hauser off the bench netted 14 on 4-of-6 from long distance. Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday each scored 10 points for the Celtics, who got their 10-game win streak snapped while also suffering the third worst loss (38-point margin) in NBA Finals history.

The Mavericks pretty much led wire-to-wire taking a 34-21 advantage into the second quarter, which ballooned into a 61-35 lead by the break.

It didn't get any better in the third, as the Boston deficit grew to 38 before coach Joe Mazzulla emptied his bench with 3:18 left in the period. The Mavs subbed out their starters soon after that, but they continued to pour it on -- leading by as many as 48 in the final frame.

Prior to Friday's blowout, the worst NBA Finals loss in the franchise's history was 137-104 in Game 3 of the 1984 championship round against the Los Angeles Lakers, before the Celtics went on to beat L.A. in three of the next four games to capture the team's 15th title.
"Preparation doesn't guarantee an automatic success," Mazzulla said. "I thought we had a great process. I thought we had a great shootaround. Thought we had a great film session yesterday. I thought the guys came out with the right intentions. I just didn't think it went our way, and I thought Dallas outplayed us. They just played harder."
The Celtics at 3-1, failed to become the first team in league history to sweep both the conference Finals and the finals (4-0), while they also were undefeated on the road during the postseason -- having won seven-straight.
"I think winning is hard. I think winning at any game is hard. But winning Game 4 of the NBA Finals is pretty damn hard," Holiday said in his postgame comments. "I think they came out desperate and I think they punched us in the mouth, and we couldn't kind of recover the way we wanted to."
Boston, who suffered their first defeat in over five weeks, will look to take care of business in Game 5 Monday night at TD Garden and capture the franchise's record-breaking 18th NBA title. ABC has the tip-off beginning at 8:30 pm ET.  

Game Notes:

Celtics were 36.3% from the field including 14-of-41 (34.1%) from 3-point range, while Dallas hit 50.5% from the floor and 15-of-37 (40.5%) from behind the arc. The Mavs out-rebounded the visiting team 52-31 and outscored them in the paint 60-26. Boston had 18 assists (14 turnovers) on 29 baskets to the Mavericks' 21 dimes (eight turnovers) on 46 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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