The NBA Finals: Kristaps Porzingis Shines, Celtics Cruise Past Mavericks in Game 1

The first game of The NBA Finals was set to be a tone-setter for both teams, and it certainly was. The Boston Celtics proved they are a capable team, while the Dallas Mavericks became painfully aware of their needed adjustments heading into Game 2.
Jun 6, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) controls the ball against Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford (21) in the first quarter during game one of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden.
Jun 6, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) controls the ball against Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford (21) in the first quarter during game one of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden. / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn't get his wish Thursday evening.

As The NBA Finals made its way back to Boston for the second time in three seasons, it was on the Celtics to come up with a win and prove themselves against a tough Western Conference opponent.

To that point, they'd heard all of the criticisms: Their trip to the finals was easy. Dallas would embarass them ... anyone in the West would embarass them.

The Mavericks had a similar level of urgency when it came to winning it all. Despite the talents of Luka Doncic, they had been unable to make it to the championship round — let alone win it. So, as much pressure was on the Celtics and Jayson Tatum, Dallas wasn't immune to it.

And at the end of Game 1, only the Mavericks felt more pressure. Jaylen Brown led the way points-wise for the Celtics, ending the night with 22 points, three steals and three blocks, but it was Kristaps Porzingis who made all the difference for them, as he tallied 20 points and three blocks of his own off the bench to provide a much-needed boost behind the starters.

Mavericks star Luka Doncic dropped 30 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks in his teams' road effort, but Kyrie Irving's struggle — Dallas' second star shot 6-19 and 0-5 from 3-point range — prevented them from putting together a performance like they had the rest of the playoffs as Boston ultimately came out with a blowout victory, 107-89.

Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) dunks against the Dallas Mavericks in the third quarter during game one of the finals.
Jun 6, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) dunks against the Dallas Mavericks in the third quarter during game one of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden. / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

From the get-go, Celtics center Al Horford found the bottom of the net with a flush, and from there, the home team overcame the initial back-and-forth to take a 17-point lead to the second quarter. Horford, Tatum, Derrick White and Jrue Holiday all sank a 3-pointer to go along with Porzingis' nine-point quarter, and it seemed that the Mavericks were primed for a comeback.

But instead, it only got worse. By time the second quarter came and went, Boston had amassed a 21-point lead and kept Dallas completely shut down, only scoring 42 at the first-half buzzer.

Doncic came alive in the third quarter, scoring eight points and two 3-pointers — the second of which brought the game within eight points — as he used a screen to pull up from deep on the left side.

Despite his effort, however, his running mate's disappearance put the game out of Dallas' reach as Boston continued to find the bottom of the basket. The lead was 20 as the fourth quarter commenced, and by the halfway mark, Doncic was subbed out.

The Mavericks star headed to the locker room as the final buzzer sounded, meanwhile the Celtics celebrated a Game 1 victory complete with six double-digit scorers to Dallas' three. Without Irving — and a strong second-unit performance — it just wasn't feasible. Boston took a win, 107-89.

Next up for both teams is a second game at TD Garden, where the Celtics will look to take a commanding 2-0 lead and the Mavericks will hope to tie up the series heading home.

Whether or not that ends up being the case remains unknown, but Dallas certainly has some adjusting to do.

Game 2 of The NBA Finals is set for 7 p.m. CST Sunday.


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Matt Guzman

MATT GUZMAN

Matt Guzman is a sports journalist and storyteller from Austin, Texas. He serves as a credentialed reporter and site manager for San Antonio Spurs On SI and a staff writer for multiple collegiate sites in the same network. In the world of professional sports, he is a firm believer that athletes are people, too, and intends to tell stories of players and teams’ true, behind-the-scenes character that otherwise would not be seen through strong narrative writing, hooking ledes and passionate words.