Celtics Discuss Keeping Mavs from Building on Dominant Game 4: 'Play Like Our Life Depends on It'

Jun 14, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) dribbles the ball against Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford (21) during the first quarter during game four of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) dribbles the ball against Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford (21) during the first quarter during game four of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

The Celtics entered Game 4 of the NBA Finals with a 10-game win streak. They had gone 3/3 in closeout opportunities and hadn't lost on the road this postseason.

On Wednesday, they produced perhaps their best quarter in this year's playoffs, then fended off the Mavericks' rally in the final frame of Boston's 105-98 victory. It appeared trailing 3-0 might keep Dallas from getting off the mat.

But in Game 4 at American Airlines Center, the hosts played freely, with more energy, and they were the more physical team. They generated 60 points in the paint and converted 13 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points.

Mavericks center Daniel Gafford finishes an alley-oop from Luka Doncic in Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals vs. the Celtics.
Jun 14, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford (21) dunks the ball against the Boston Celtics during the second half of game four of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

After a 122-84 loss, sending the NBA Finals back to TD Garden for Game 5 on Monday, Jaylen Brown conveyed, "We learn from it. We take it. We don't dismiss it. We're going to learn from it. We're going to see how and why, exactly where the game was won and lost. And then we take those experiences and then we come out, and we play like our life depends on it because it does."

Jrue Holiday, whose even-keeled approach and "Championship DNA" are rubbing off on the Celtics, is the lone player on Boston's roster with experience closing out a team in the NBA Finals.

When asked what makes that so challenging, even with a commanding 3-0 series lead, the two-time All-Star responded, "I don't know. I don't know; even though I've done it. You've got to do it together as a team. Everybody has to be clicking and being -- again -- the more desperate team. We've just got to go back home. I think locking into tendencies, locking into the game plan, and I think we'll be okay."

Another pillar the Celtics lean on is Al Horford. On the verge of adding an NBA championship to a legacy already defined by winning, the 17-year veteran discussed the keys to keeping Dallas from building off what it accomplished in a convincing Game 4 win.

"Understanding that it's one game," stated Horford. "After we won Game 1, we put that behind us. Game 2, kind of (the) same thing, and so on, and we are at this point now. We have to take some things that we can be better at and try to fix them, and then, others, kind of throw them out, and just kind of do that, and make sure that we come out and we play Celtics basketball.

"I think ultimately that's what it comes down to for us, and there's a lot of things that we can control and that I expect us to be much better on Monday."

Further Reading

Dependable Xavier Tillman Discusses Learning to 'Be a Star in Your Own Role'

Celtics Detail Keys to Perhaps Their Best Quarter This Postseason

Celtics Weather Late Storm to Move Within One Win of Banner 18

Sports Doctor Details Challenges, Risks of Kristaps Porzingis Playing in NBA Finals

Celtics React to Injury That May Sideline Kristaps Porzingis for NBA Finals

Jrue Holiday's 'Championship DNA' Rubbing Off on Celtics

Stifling Defense Moves Celtics Halfway to Banner 18

Jayson Tatum's Joy Outweighing Pressure of NBA Finals Return

Inside the Moment that Propelled Celtics to NBA Finals Game 1 Win

Celtics Set the Tone for the NBA Finals with Game 1 Haymaker


Published |Modified
Bobby Krivitsky

BOBBY KRIVITSKY

Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.