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How Mavericks magician Doncic can individually produce a miracle to bring second NBA title to Dallas

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks goes up for a shot against Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks during the first quarter at State Farm Arena on January 26, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Sam Streten new author
Roar Rookie
6th June, 2024
2

When you look at the road both teams have taken to the NBA finals there is clearly an advantage to Boston.

Having played two five-game series and one four-game one, they were never really challenged. With their last game played on the 28th May, the team have enjoyed a nine-day layoff period.

However, I don’t subscribe to the theory that smooth sailing to the finals is something that harbours champions.

Dallas on the other hand has eliminated three legitimate title contenders en route to the big dance. This trek to the finals through the uber-competitive West has tested their roster and proven that they are a championship-calibre team.

Seven out of the last ten NBA champions have been from the West which highlights the steeling effect of such a fierce and demanding conference.

You can add to that background that this has been one of the most competitive seasons it has seen in recent years, which saw the reigning champions exit the playoffs in the second round.

Leading into the postseason I did not think Dallas would be here in the NBA finals but like all great teams they have shown their character and ability to perform when the pressure is on.

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So much so that I can see them beating a powerhouse Boston team before the seventh game.

For a team to win a title, all of the pieces need to come together in sync. In Denver’s case, they built it over multiple years, Golden State they drafted their gilded stars and built around them, and for the Mavs, they saw the potential in a young Slovenian guard and patiently waited.

The Mavs accepted that their budding MVP would not bring championships immediately, but they were all in on this investment. Combined with future Hall of Famer Kyrie Irving, they form the most skilful backcourt in the NBA.

The final touch was applied courtesy of some front office mid-season magnificence.

The addition of Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington were the final pieces of the puzzle. No one saw this trade to be the one to win the Mavericks a championship, but few are questioning it now.

The importance of role players has been highlighted during these playoffs but these two have consistently shown their value ever since that February trade.

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For the past few years, many have watched Luka and known what he was destined for. It was not a question of if he would be the face of the league, it was when.

That time is now.

Having averaged 32.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.4 assists in the Western Conference finals, he was the clear MVP of that series and that should be just a taste of what is to come.

Doncic will need his counterpart Irving to be in career-best form when returning to Boston. Whilst Luka is the face of this franchise, Irving’s performance holds the key to the Mavs’ chances of winning.

Kyrie’s two-year Boston tenure is something their fans will not have forgotten.

His comment on this period is “I wasn’t my best self”. Best is certainly something he will need to be for the Mavs to win this series.

He was just 23 when he won the championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, now he is 32 and a much more mature player – his leadership and experience will be crucial to the Mavs adding to their ring collection.

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Waiting to spoil the party are the Celtics and there are three things they bring that concern me. One is the elite defence of Derrick White and Jrue Holiday.

Having two defenders of that calibre on one team is almost unfair. They have the potential to seriously disrupt the elite Dallas offence.

The second is the Celtics perimeter shooting. They averaged 42.5 three-pointers attempted per game in the regular season at a conversion rate of 38.8%.

For anyone who has watched some of their games this year, you know what happens when the shots start falling. All of a sudden there is a considerable margin in the score and they head off on a 12 – 0 run.

Harrison Barnes handles the ball while being pressured by Luka Doncic.

Harrison Barnes handles the ball while being pressured by Luka Doncic. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

The final concern is Jayson Tatum, whose brilliance this year was justly rewarded with a fifth All-Star appearance and third consecutive All-NBA first team.

If we were judging this contest solely off the regular season Boston (64-18) would easily take out Dallas (50-32) and be walking away champions.

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The two times they met this year resulted in Boston victories with the most recent game being a 138 – 110 blowout.

Take note that this fixture was on March 2, therefore after the PJ Washington trade.

Celtics fans will be licking their lips knowing their regular season dominance seemed pre-ordained, they are a team that has looked it from the get-go.

For two teams who are so well-rounded and stacked with stars, it can be extremely difficult to pick them apart and confidently say who will be the 2024 NBA champion. There is really only one thing that separates the two.

Well, one man I should say.

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When you think of the 2011 Mavs premiership there is a name that singularly comes to mind. Dirk Nowitzki. This time around Dallas will again be relying on a European superstar to get them another banner.

The Mavericks’ long-haul investment in European basketballers has well and truly paid off. When you look back and think of the 2024 NBA final series all you will recall is Luka Doncic and how he led Dallas to their second-ever title.

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