NBA Finals: Celtics vs. Mavs, Revenge Storyline, Key Matchups

The Boston Celtics are set to take on the Dallas Mavericks in the 2024 NBA Finals, which features a series of player rivalries with prior teammates. When comparing the two teams, the Celtics have 17 NBA titles in franchise history (tied with Lakers for most all-time), while the Mavs are seeking their second-ever championship, as the last came in 2011 when Dirk Nowitzki helped lead the team to upset the Miami Heat (4-2). On the other hand, Boston is looking for their first ring since 2008, when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen defeated Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers (4-2).Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks, NBA


The storyline for this series has a revenge undertone, considering there are two players who will be facing their old teams, as Kyrie Irving used to play for the Celtics from 2017-19 and Kristaps Porzingis is a former Mavericks player from 2019-22. With that being said, both players are difference makers for their new current teams, and the fans and teammates of their past teams have undoubtedly not forgotten about them.

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That is to say, Kyrie will most likely be more hated by the Boston fans than Porzingis upon his return to Dallas. Kyrie left in free agency to join the Nets after two seasons, while Porzingis was traded to the Washington Wizards ahead of the 2022 trade deadline.

Porzingis made the following statement, “It’s going to be fun going up against my old team.”

Then Kyrie stated that he was not scared of the Celtics fans.

“There’s no fear out here, man. It’s basketball,” Irving said. “The fans are gonna say what they’re gonna say.”

As both players didn’t fit with their previous teams, after finding their new homes, they have certainly flourished and will be counted on by their teammates in order to win their respective organizations a title.

Especially Kyrie who has by far the most playoff experience on a young Mavs team that has only made it past the first round one time since their last ’11 championship. Notably, this is Kyrie’s fourth NBA championship appearance, as he memorably won the 2016 Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers. To point out, Kyrie ranks eighth all-time for highest points per game in NBA Finals history (27.7 ppg).

Then when looking at Kyrie’s backcourt partner, Luka Doncic, the Slovenian is hoping to follow in his old teammate Nowitzki’s footsteps, in bringing a championship to Dallas. Seemingly, Luka is the best player in the series, as he leads the Mavericks in almost every statistical category. To emphasize, the 25-year-old superstar had the highest usage rating (35.9%) out of any player this season and went on to win the 2023-24 NBA scoring title, averaging 33.9 points (48.7% FG; 38.2% 3P), 9.2 rebounds, and 9.8 assists.

The supporting cast for the fifth-seeded Mavericks (50-32) features two pieces, Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington, both of which were acquired ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Gafford, the former Wizards center, is averaging 9.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks (team leader) in 21.8 minutes per game in the playoffs.

While, Washington, the former Charlotte Hornets player, is currently averaging 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds in 36.5 minutes per game throughout the postseason.

On the other side, the No.1 seeded Celtics (64-18), have a superstar tandem in Jayson Tatum (26.0 ppg; 44.2% FG) and Jaylen Brown (25.0 ppg; 54.1% FG), but the team also has an arsenal of weapons surrounding the two co-stars. Meaning to say, Boston’s supporting cast has a big three of their own that includes Derrick White (17.8 ppg), Jrue Holiday (12.7 ppg), and Porzingis (returning from calf injury), who can all impact the game on both the offense and defensive side of the ball.

Tatum is leading his team in three major stat categories this postseason with 26.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists. The 26-year-old will hope to improve on his 2022 Finals performance vs. the Warriors, in which he averaged 21.5 ppg on 36.7% FG shooting.

When thinking about the underdogs and their chances, head coach Jason Kidd, who was on the 2011 Mavericks team that won the championship, said the team will rely on their star players.

“Some of us for the Mavs have been here, some of us haven’t,” Kidd said. “We’re going to embrace that and find a way to hopefully win a series.”

Kyrie, who is the veteran leader of the Mavs, will be going up against his one-time teammates in Tatum and Brown, and will without a doubt hear an array of boos as he goes back to play at Boston’s TD Garden for Game 1, which will tip-off June 6 at 8:30 pm ET.

Celtics Advance To NBA Finals, As Fans Await Their Anticipated Opponent: ‘F*** Kyrie’

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