Mavs Celtics

How the Dallas Mavericks Can Turn the NBA Finals Around

The Mavericks find themselves in an early hole in the NBA Finals, with the series heading back to Dallas down 2-0. Leveraging the talents of Luka Doncic, and getting Kyrie Irving back on track, Jason Kidd has to pull every trick out of his hat.

Analyzing Game 2’s missed opportunities have set the stage for crucial adjustments needed for the Mavericks to regain their footing. A significant focus will be placed on Kyrie Irving and the Mavs bench, whose contributions have been less than stellar.

Analyze Game 2’s Missed Opportunities

Free Throw Woes

Luka Doncic’s performance at the free throw line significantly impacted the Mavericks’ chances in Game 2, as he managed only a 50% success rate, contributing to the team’s overall 66.7% from the line. At one point in the fourth quarter they were down 10 and they had already missed eight free throws. Inexcusable, and Dallas has been the worst FT shooting team in the playoffs. 

Turnover Troubles

Credit the Celtics for locking down the perimeter. Doncic owned the blame for his high turnover count, which totaled eight. Boston hasn’t shot well, but this is how they will make you pay. Converting these into crucial points during transition plays keeps that Boston crowd in a frenzy. These turnovers not only halted Mavericks’ offensive rhythm but also provided the Celtics 15 points in transition. 

Three-Point Struggles

The Mavericks’ struggles extended beyond free throws and turnovers, as their three-point shooting was atrocious. The team shot a mere 23.1% from beyond the arc. The Celtics defensive backcourt showed they are too much to bear. This shooting slump was part of a broader issue of offensive underperformance.

Strategic Adjustments for Mavericks

The Mavericks need to move the ball and not live and die by Doncic and Irving’s isolation plays. Boston’s strategy of not blitzing pick-and-rolls has allowed them to maintain a solid defensive structure, demanding an increasing aggressiveness from Boston’s help defense.

The significant drop in passes during the Finals, compared to their season average, has stifled their offensive fluidity. They are making it easy for Boston to guard the three-point line; encouraging Doncic and Irving to drive more aggressively will also collapse the defense and create open looks for their teammates. If they do this and mitigate turnovers they’ll interrupt Boston’s offensive flow by being set defensively.

Role Player Contributions

Some of their contributions have been laughable. The Mavericks’ supporting cast, particularly Dereck Lively II, Daniel Gafford, and P.J. Washington, need to enhance their contributions. Lively’s presence in the paint and Gafford’s rim protection need to be noteworthy at home. While Washington’s consistent scoring has been the highlight, they need more of him from three. They have done a decent job stopping Boston’s shooting, limiting Tatum to less than 20 points in the first two games; but someone has to step up on offense to help Luka.

Luka’s Health

Luka is a superhero. Despite injuries, he delivered a historic performance by achieving his 10th career playoff triple-double and the first Finals triple-double in Mavericks’ history. Even with 32/11/11 he knew turnovers and free throws werethe difference.

Before Game 2, he was getting treatment all over his body. From a sprained right knee, a left ankle issue, and a bruised chest, his physical limitations seem to be affecting his defensive mobility, as seen when Jaylen Brown outmaneuvered him on a fast break. Let’s face it, he was gassed by the 4th quarter. 

Importance of Home Games

Home court advantage has played a role in facilitating comebacks, but I don’t see that being the case here. The Mavs are 7-4 these playoffs on the road and 5-3 at home. The Celtics this playoffs have been the road warriors, with a perfect 6-0 record. Both of their playoff losses coming in Game 2 of the first two rounds. The main difference is the Celtics talent is simply outclassing the Mavs. 

Despite all the Luka magic, the Celtics have the rest of the team trapped in a bottle. The supporting cast consisting of Derrick White, Jrue Holiday and Porzingis have had their moments early this finals. Even when Boston is struggling, they are finding ways to win. Jayson Tatum is not shooting well, but he is on the glass or racking up 12 assists.

Onto Dallas

A change of scenery may be needed because Boston let Kyrie have it. Only five teams have historically overcome a 0-2 deficit in the NBA Finals. Kyrie has already been apart of the greatest comeback in NBA history. He will need to pull those strings for a chance to achieve this type of feat yet again. As the Mavericks look to leverage home court advantage and harness the outlined strategies, they’ll have their hands full to stop the storm the Celtics have been throughout this seasons entirety. 


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