Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics – NBA Finals Game 5

There was no sweep, and there will be no historic postseason winning streak by the Boston Celtics. But Boston fans were able to not get too fussed by the Celtics loss in Game 4 to the Dallas Mavericks. Because with that loss, Boston can now win the series at home.

It is more fun to win in front of the home crowd, but you can be sure that the Celtics wanted to return to Boston as champions, and not champions-in-waiting. And to lose by 38 points was definitely not in the plans.

The longest losing streak for the Celtics this season was two games, and it’s been more than two months since that last happened. To believe that Dallas will pull off four wins in a row remains unthinkable. However, the Mavs have won as many as four in a row eight different times this season. So the task on Monday night at TD Garden is clear for the Celtics. What little life was given to Dallas in Game 4 must be snuffed out in Game 5.

“I think we understand that they are a desperate team and they are playing probably a little freer,” Celtics center Al Horford said. “For us, it’s really controlling what we can control and making sure that we are solid in the things that we need to do.”

What Boston needs to do is be better inside. In Game 4, the Celtics were just 13-of-33 on shots in the paint, running into Mavericks centers Daniel Gafford and Derrick Lively. Jayson Tatum had just 15 points, Jaylen Brown scored 10, and Jrue Holiday had 10.

Boston Home Cooking

The Celtics won Game 1, 107-89, and they were winners in Game 2, 105-98. They played complete basketball at home in the first two games of this series, harassing Luka Dončić into 12 total turnovers. Kyrie Irving shot just 13-for-37 (35.1%) in the two games in Boston, and was 0-for-8 from three.

If the defense that the Celtics played at home in those first two games returns, the series will end on Monday. But if Irving can bring his Dallas game on the road, the Mavericks have a chance. In Games 1 and 2, he scored a total of 28 points. In Games 3 and 4, he averaged 28 points a night.

Dončić scored 30 points in Game 1 in Boston, but he is at his best, and the Dallas offense is at its most dangerous, when he distributes the basketball. He had just one assist in that first game, thanks to the blanketing Boston defense.

Celtics Still Heavy Favorites

Dallas has a chance, however small it might be. But it is definitely small, and the betting odds back that up.

The Celtics are 6.5-point favorites to win on Monday night, and they are -265 on the moneyline. To win the series, even if it doesn’t happen in Game 5, Boston is -1800.

Brown remains the heavy favorite to be Finals MVP at -235. Tatum is next at +255. Dončić is +1100, but it’s impossible to see how he wins the award if the Mavericks don’t come back and win the series in seven.

The Celtics still have three chances to put this series away, and two of them are at home. The last time the Celtics lost two straight games at home was 13 months ago during the Eastern Conference Finals with the Miami Heat.

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