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The Wingspan

The Wingspan

Your Guide to the 2024 NBA Finals

Superstars collide: Jayson Tatum guarding Luka Doncic

The NBA Finals have begun and this year’s matchup is one we have never seen before. The Boston Celtics from the East will take on the Dallas Mavericks from the West. 

The story of Boston’s season has been  one of sheer talent, at all five positions. All stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both averaged over 23 points a game this season leading the Celtics to the number one seed in the eastern conference, and both have continued their dominance into the postseason. Outside of their top two players, the Celtics have a very strong team built around their duo with  former all stars, Kristpas Porzingis and Jrue Holiday playing their roles to perfection. Holiday, a new addition, has used his defensive ability to stifle opposing guards while Prozingis, another new face, is the perfect “glue guy” to bring the team together. None of the Celtics’ successes would have been possible without the emergence of Derrick White. White has always been a shutdown defender, but ever since he got to Boston his offensive and three point shooting game has been electric. The largest question mark of the Celtics comes with their depth. The bench is lacking outside veteran Al Horford, and this lack of talent could come back to bite Boston. 

Dallas on the other hand has a different thing going for them. The Mavericks are headlined by superstar and Most Valuable Player finalist, Luka Doncic. Doncic averaged a whopping 33.9 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 9.8 assist during the regular season helping Dallas reach the five seed in the west. While the statistics are impressive, Doncic is not the only star on this team. Former all star and former Celtics star, Kyrie Irving has helped the Mavericks improve since his acquisition. Irving averaged 25.6 points per game this year and has been the perfect backcourt mate next to Doncic. Outside of the two stars the Mavericks are filled with great depth pieces. Rookie center Derrick Lively II has been playing outstanding in the playoffs as well as trade deadline additions in PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford. These players plus Doncic’s playmaking ability have made the Mavericks a dangerous team to run into this postseason. The Celtics do have more top tier talent than Dallas, so it will be interesting to see how these rosters collide.

The Celtics and the Mavericks met twice earlier this season with Boston coming out on top on both occasions. The story of the series will be Dallas’ ability to halt the scoring efforts of Tatum and Brown. When both of them are on the court, the Celtics become one of the deadliest teams in recent history. Tatum scored over 30 points in both regular season matchups, lifting the Celtics to wins. While Doncic also had two 30+ point games, his supporting cast lacked the ability to create. If the Mavericks want to push this series they need a player other than Doncic to step up, creating a large spotlight on Kyrie Irving.

The history between Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics is shaky to say the least. Irving, a former Celtics player, had some of his best years in Boston, even reaching the Eastern Conference Finals before being met by LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. The last time Irving met the Celtics in the playoffs he was a member of the Brooklyn Nets. While the Nets would go on to lose that series it did not come without controversy. Irving was seen on multiple occasions giving the middle finger to the Boston crowd and stomping on the center court logo. This turmoil came after Irving suddenly left the Celtics in free agency after promising to resign during that regular season. However, it seems like Kyrie Irving has moved on since these events after his interview with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, saying, “that wasn’t a great reflection of who I am and how I like to compete on a high level. It wasn’t a great reflection on my end towards the next generation on what it means to control your emotions in that type of environment, no matter what people are yelling at you.”. While it seems Irving has moved on from the incident, the Celtics fans have not and these games in Boston are looking like they will be tough environments for Dallas.

The NBA season will end in the next month, and these next few games will crown the champion of the league as well as cement history for all these players and coaches. Now it is just a matter of time until we see who will come out victorious.


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About the Contributor
Charles Sandersen, Sports Writer