Dereck Lively II Posts Finals Best Performance in Costly Loss

The Mavericks rookie played his personal best on the series on Wednesday night, but his team fell short as the light dims on a successful Dallas season.
Jun 12, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) passes the ball against Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the fourth quarter during game three of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) passes the ball against Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) during the fourth quarter during game three of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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Dereck Lively II has been a huge catalyst for the gauntlet of a postseason run that the Dallas Mavericks have had to endure and survive.

He's been a massive cog in the wheel, constantly making hustle plays and providing Dallas the opportunities it's needed to be as successful as they've been throughout this playoff run. 9.5 points on 16-of-16 from the field, 7.8 boards and 1.5 blocks in five games throughout the Western Conference Finals, that was the very pinnacle of Lively's playoff play, helping ward off the hungry Minnesota Timberwolves.

Remember, he's just a rookie. But the impact he's provided has been much more than that of a first-year talent, averaging about 22 minutes in his 19 games played throughout the playoffs. He's held down the Mavericks frontcourt defensively, being a rim deterrent while also covering great space around the cylinder and beyond.

However, against Boston, he hasn't quite seen the same success versus a formidable defensive foe. Dropping the first two games with four total points to show for it, as well as a lesser impact defensively, Lively's impact in this NBA Finals has been tranquilized -- and it's because of the organic skill and chemistry that the Celtics have cultivated as the best team in the league throughout the entire season.

On Wednesday night, the Mavericks had a chance to turn the tide and shift the momentum. It couldn't be done. Despite Lively's 11 points on 83.3% shooting, 13 boards and two steals in 30 minutes of play time, Boston's ability to spread the ball while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum lead at the helm is just too overwhelming for a team on both ends of the floor. And certainly when your team's superstar is in full trouble and can't seem to get out of his own head.

As it stands with the series 3-0, the Mavericks' season is likely over. They've rallied before, but this doesn't feel like a situation where that is feasible. That said, Lively's season has been greatly impressive, and it's something he and the organization can take away from this year and anticipate the growth of his play past his rookie season.


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Nathan Aker

NATHAN AKER

Nathan is a senior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in Public Relations set to graduate in May 2024. He holds experience covering multiple sports, primarily basketball, at the high school and collegiate level.