Boston Celtics Take Commanding NBA Finals Lead Over Dallas Mavericks

Before the NBA Finals began, the Boston Celtics were -215 favorites to win the title. After easy wins in Games 1 and 2, those odds are now -800.

The Dallas Mavericks now return home for two games, with the opportunity to even the series before having to head back to TD Garden in Boston for Game 5. But in truth, there are no guarantees this series will return to Boston. A Celtics sweep is now paying +240. Only a Celtics win in five games has shorter odds at +205.

Before the series began, a Celtics sweep was at +600, and a five-game Boston win was paying +340.

Boston came into the series as the better team, having led the NBA in wins since the first week of the regular season. They now are on a nine-game winning streak in the playoffs, and overall, they are 14-2 this postseason. Good teams make the playoffs. Great teams play at their best when the competition is the best in the league.

In Game 1, the Celtics won by 18 points, but it wasn’t nearly that close. At the half, they led the Mavericks by 21 points, and the lead was still 20 going into the fourth quarter. Jaylen Brown led the way with 22 points, but the real difference was the return of Kristaps Porziņģis, who scored 20 points in just 21 minutes on 8-for-13 shooting.

After the Game 1 loss, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd tried to play mind games with the Celtics, calling Brown Boston’s best player, and saying that Jayson Tatum was not. As a three-time All-NBA First Team selection, Tatum is comfortable enough with his status around the league that he didn’t press in Game 2 and try to show up Kidd. Instead, he played great team basketball, handing out a game-high 12 assists. It was the most assists for him in any game this season.

Tatum scored 18 points in the seven-point win, 105-98, while Brown finished with 21, and Jrue Holiday scored 26.

Mavericks a (Failing) One-Man Show

The Celtics are getting contributions from everyone on their team, while Dallas is trying to win on the back of Luka Dončić.

It’s not working.

In Game 1, Dončić had 30 points and 10 rebounds. No one else scored more than 14 points or had more than eight rebounds. In Game 2, Dončić had 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists for the first NBA Finals triple-double in the history of the Mavericks. The rest of the team combined for 10 assists, and the next-highest scorer was P.J. Washington with 17. Kyrie Irving scored only 16 points on 7-for-18 shooting, and 0-for-3 from the three-point line.

Dončić scored only three points in the fourth quarter, and took the blame for the loss. But Kidd put the brakes on that, saying, “It’s a team. He put us in a position. He was really good tonight. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get over the hump tonight. We’ve got to find someone to join him.”

With the next two at home, Dallas should get a lift. But keep in mind that the Celtics are a perfect 6-0 on the road this postseason. In the eight previous times that the Boston franchise won the first two games of an NBA Finals, they are 8-0, and they have never been forced to a Game 7.

In these playoffs, the Mavericks have lost three games at home, which includes one home loss in each of the previous three series.

Game 3 is Wednesday night in Dallas, and the Mavericks have opened as two-point favorites.

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