Dallas Mavericks fumble NBA Finals games in Boston

Miscues by the Mavs made it too easy for the Celtics.

By Michael MarksJune 10, 2024 2:00 pm,

There’s no such thing as an easy road to an NBA championship. But the Dallas Mavericks now face the most uphill of climbs if they want to claim this year’s title.

The Mavs are now down 2-0 in their NBA Finals matchup with the Boston Celtics. Although Game 2 was a closer contest than the series opener, Dallas still lost 105 to 98.

The Texas Standard’s Michael Marks broke down what’s gone so wrong for the Mavericks so far. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: We should mention you are in fact a Mavericks fan. These probably weren’t an easy watch, I don’t reckon. 

Michael Marks: No, you have to keep it in perspective. Most of the other team’s fans in the league are not watching basketball at all – or at least their favorite team play basketball. So, you’ve got that in your back pocket.

But then, once you get past that, it has not been easy to watch these, but, you know, hope springs eternal.

Well, let’s talk about why the Mavericks are down two games to none in this series. One word comes to mind: Turnovers. But maybe you have more insight here. What do you see?

Michael Marks: That’s a very good word, “turnovers.”

It’s a very bad word, Michael.

Michael Marks: Well, you’re correct. A very bad one. Or a very bad one if you’re the one perpetrating them. A good word to describe what exactly is going wrong in this series.

Boston is just better. All of their players can shoot, defend, pass, move off the dribble. There’s nowhere to hide against these folks.

But in addition to having more talent, they’re also doing more of the things that don’t necessarily require talent, just effort. For more on that, here’s Mavericks coach Jason Kidd speaking last night after Game 2:

Jason Kidd: You know, we have to do the small things and that’s part of the game. You know, those are points that we left on the board and we didn’t shoot free throws well tonight. And we have to be better.

Michael Marks: And it’s not just free throws, though. The Celtics are also getting more deflections per game than the Mavericks. That’s a big indicator of hustle. They’re recovering twice as many loose balls as the Mavericks – generally just playing with more force.

Now, after the game Sunday, the Mavericks starter Luka Dončić took on much of the blame for the loss. Let’s listen to what he had to say:

Luka Dončić: You know, at the end of the day, we’ve got to make some more shots. You know, I think my turnovers and my missed free throws cost us a game. So I got to do way better in those two categories.

But at the end of the day, we got to make shots to win the game.

You know, I gotta ask, though, how much is Dončić just being hard on himself? Is he really to blame for the Mavericks current position? That’s overstating it, don’t you think? 

Michael Marks: I do think it’s overstating it. I think it’s the right thing to say if you’re the best player on the team and you’re trying to set that kind of example, but I don’t think it’s necessarily grounded in reality.

Dončić is the reason that they have been in this series at all – his shooting, his passing, his ability to control the game and its pace. In fact, Kyrie Irving, his costar on the Mavericks, said as much when asked about Dončić’s performance and how it related to the team’s overall success in the press conference:

Kyrie Irving:  You know, it’s on all of us, man. I’m pretty sure if you hear what everybody has to say, they’ll say that they can do something better.

You know, one of the big reasons for the Celtics’ success so far has been the play of their center, Kristaps Porziņģis, who used to play in Dallas of all places. Tell us about the sort of impact he’s had for the Celts.

Michael Marks: I think he’s been their most impactful player. He’s certainly not their best player. But at 7-foot-4, a guy who can guard the rim and shoot the three the way he did… You know, when he first came into the league, they called him “the Unicorn” because so few players were able to do what he did.

Now he’s developed – he’s an archetype unto himself in the league. And even though he’s young, he’s had a real roller coaster story of a career and people have written him off. And now he’s just a monster.

He’s making shots. He’s making it very difficult for the Mavericks to run the offense that they want. And it’s objectively a remarkable redemption story for a guy who’s had a lot of problems with injuries and self-doubt, frankly, in his career.

Interesting. All right, so Game 3 on Wednesday in Dallas. I guess you’ve got the home advantage. Can the Mavericks still win this series?

Michael Marks: Certainly. Mavericks fans will be quick to note that a few years ago, when they played the Phenix Suns in a series, they were down 2-0, and they came back to win that one and advance to the Western Conference Finals.

Now there are very, very few players from that team remaining on this one. Luka, of course, is a principle character. But, you know, this team has fought all season long. They will continue to do so.

Nothing’s impossible. We will watch and find out.

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