NBA Finals Game 1 Recap and Game 2 Odds

The Boston Celtics dominated Game 1 of the NBA Finals and opened as 7-point favorites for Game 2.
Kristaps Porzingis NBA Finals
Kristaps Porzingis put up 20 points in 21 minutes in Game 1 of the NBA Finals

After a 17-point first quarter lead, the Boston Celtics didn’t look back against the Mavs in a 107-89 victory. If we learned one thing from Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals, it’s not that the Celtics are going to run away with this series, it isn’t that Porzingis might have just had the game of his life (which he did), and it isn’t that Tatum & Brown are the two most important players this series for Boston.

The answer is Jrue Holiday. Jrue Holiday is the absolute alpha for this Boston team and similar to his championship down 2 games to none in Milwaukee a few years ago, there isn’t a time, score, or place that will intimidate one of the most underrated guards this league has seen this century.

KP’s Comeback

Was Wemby playing in the NBA Finals? That’s what it looked like in the 1st half as Kristaps Porzingis seemed to have maximized his potential in this game. While Jason Kidd figured out how to defend KP in the 2nd half, it was too late for a Mavs team that just didn’t have that spark in Game 1.

Kristaps’ 20 points, 6 boards, and 3 blocks in 21 minutes of game time was one of the great comebacks in the playoffs I’ve seen. His ability to stretch Gafford and Lively outside the arc and then capitalize on smaller defenders in Jones and Hardy, to defensively where he had an incredible block on a Jalen Green fastbreak dunk attempt, it felt like Boston took control of this game via KP’s adrenaline-based comeback into the playoffs.

For the big man who was written off a few years ago during his stint with Dallas and then again after being traded to a tanking Washington team, this moment felt especially significant. It seemed like he might never have another opportunity to shine on a big stage, but he proved us all wrong, demonstrating that he is indeed a unicorn and a one-of-a-kind talent.

For Boston, Dallas and Kidd being unable to scout Porzingis during the last two playoff series was a blessing in disguise as their scheme had no answer for KP’s shot making.

Jrue Holiday and Derrick White

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had their typical Game 1s, shooting alright from the field and playmaking for opponents. However, as we stated in our pre-series articles, the reason Boston got off to a quick start was White’s shooting and Holiday’s incredible defense on Irving and Luka. White hit 3 three-pointers and was extremely smart with the basketball in Game 1 to no surprise. When the series shifts to Dallas, he’ll have to be a focal point of this offense if one of Brown or Tatum is struggling to get into a rhythm.

As for Holiday, no one wanted to attack him on Dallas. He was adamant about stopping whoever had the ball and forced Luka into difficult shots each possession wearing him out on that end of the floor. Doncic finished with 1 assist the entire night (season low). As for Kyrie, his 31% shooting was his 2nd-worst this postseason and similar to Luka, couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm offensively. It seemed as if he was more focused on helping the inexperienced Mavs get out of their heads during breaks in the game rather than focus on scoring the basketball and applying pressure on the Boston defense himself. Kidd will have to scheme Kyrie open and get him more mismatches earlier in the contest moving forward. 

Holiday’s impact might not have shown up completely on the stat sheet, but he was the most important Celtic in Game 1.

Opening Odds for Game 2

The Boston Celtics opened as 7-point favorites for Game 2. After these teams combined to score 196 points in Game 1, the total opened at 215 points. Find the current odds for Game 2 in the table below.

Game 2 Keys for Dallas

First of all, I trust Jason Kidd to keep Game 2 close. The Mavs haven’t lost back-to-back games this playoff run and that includes playing against the Clippers, Thunder, and Wolves. Dallas should play at a quicker pace throughout the first quarter, applying pressure on Boston defensively and making sure KP, Brown, and Tatum still bring that defensive energy in Game 2.

Next, one of Maxi Kleber, DJJ, or PJ Washington has to step up from beyond the arc. Post-injury Maxi Kleber looks off and DJJ/Washington are continuing to struggle from beyond the arc. Look for more pump-fakes to drives in Game 2, putting rim pressure on Horford and KP early.

On defense, there has to be less switching for the Mavs. They got themselves in trouble once the smaller defender was put on Porzingis, unable to help on the 7’3 big man due to his kicking ability. Hedging the screen and ensuring one of Gafford or Lively stays on Porzingis will be crucial.

As for Luka and Kyrie, we expect them to get back on track and play more aggressively on the offensive end. This isn’t uncharted territory for them, losing two of three Game 1s by 10 or more points during the postseason. Jason Kidd and the team followed those losses up with two close victories. X-factors for Game 2 include the obvious scoring from Luka and Kyrie, but also major bench contributions from Lively and veteran Tim Hardaway Jr.

Game 2 Keys for Boston

Continuing to bring that 1st half energy in Game 2 will be crucial for Boston, who dropped two of their three Game 2s at home during this postseason (their only two playoff losses). With Kidd and the Mavs providing a better gameplan on KP now that they have seen the damage he can have, one of Tatum or Brown will have to step up offensively for Mazulla.

The question is - Can one of those guys have a massive two-way impact playing 40 minutes in Game 2? Jrue Holiday has to continue his pesky defense on Luka and Kyrie and be the alpha and leader in timeouts when Dallas goes on a run.

Seven Boston players scored in double-figures in Game 1 with KP dropping 20 off the bench and Hauser shooting lights out from beyond the arc. In Game 2, if only five Celtics score in double-figures (barring a nuclear game from White, Tatum, or Brown), the Mavs will come away with a crucial victory. Vice versa, teh Mavs will need at least five players in double-figures with a Luka 30-bomb in order to win.

Game 2 Prediction

The stage is set for a tightly contested Game 2. In previous Game 2s, Boston has struggled on the offensive end. In the Miami series, they had just three players in double-figures to Miami’s five players in a blowout loss. In Cleveland’s Game 2 loss, the Cavs had six players in double-figures to the Celtics’ five.

This scheme should ring true again in the NBA Finals’ Game 2. The team with more players in double-figure scoring will win this game, with the Mavs having a slight edge due to anticipated bounce-back performances from Luka and Kyrie.

Although Boston won Game 1 by 18 points, I predict Jason Kidd and the Mavs will pull off an upset in Game 2 at TD Garden. They will implement a better defensive scheme against Porzingis and adopt a faster-paced offense in the first half to keep the game within reach going into the fourth quarter, where Luka and Kyrie will find their spots and secure the victory.

Mavs 106-98 Boston

Final Series Prediction: Boston 4-2 (+450)

Trending Stories

No stories found.
Bettors Insider