Celtics Fend Off Late Mavericks Surge, Take 2–0 Series Lead in NBA Finals

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic dribbles the ball against Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday during the first quarter in game two of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden.
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic dribbles the ball against Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday during the first quarter in game two of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden. / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Neither team shot the ball particularly well in Game 2 of the 2024 NBA Finals, but it was the Boston Celtics who emerged victorious over the Dallas Mavericks, securing a 2–0 lead in the series following Sunday's 105–98 win.

Jrue Holiday led the charge offensively for the Celtics, proving particularly effective from in around the rim as he scored a team-high 26 points on 11 for 14 shooting. Jaylen Brown played prolific two-way ball once again, providing lockdown defense while also contributing his share on offense with 21 points.

Jayson Tatum's shooting woes continued, but as has often been the case during the postseason, Boston's depth was able to help overcome that. Tatum shot 6 for 22 from the field, but was an excellent facilitator as he racked up 12 assists and added nine rebounds.

Dallas didn't go down quietly though. The Mavs cut a 14-point deficit into just five with around one minute left, but an emphatic Derrick White block put a stopper on the comeback hopes and capped off the win for Boston.

Kristaps Porzingis, who made his return to the starting lineup on Sunday, exited during the fourth quarter after suffering an apparent leg injury. He remained in the game briefly before checking out for Al Horford and did not return. His status will be something to monitor going forward.

For the Mavericks, it often felt that if Luka Doncic wasn't scoring, the team's offense simply wasn't functioning. Doncic provided 32 of Dallas's 98 points, shooting 12 for 21 from the field despite not being at full strength. Although he registered a triple-double in just the second NBA Finals game of his career, he also had eight turnovers in the loss, struggling to take care of the ball against the stalwart Boston defense.

Apart from Doncic, the rest of the team shot 26 for 59 (44%), including a woeful 2 for 17 (11.7%) showing from three-point range. Kyrie Irving had another lackluster performance with 16 points and six assists, marking his second consecutive game without making a single three.

The series will shift to Dallas for Games 3 and 4, and the Mavericks will need to get the job done on Wednesday if they want to avoid the perilous 3–0 deficit, which no team has ever overcome in NBA history.


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Karl Rasmussen

KARL RASMUSSEN

Karl Rasmussen is a writer on Sports Illustrated’s Breaking & Trending News Team. A University of Oregon alum, his work has appeared on 12up and ClutchPoints. He’s a loyal Tottenham, Jets, Yankees and Ducks fan.