2024 NBA Finals: Celtics vs Mavericks

2024 NBA Finals: Three things to watch

The Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving partnership

So, how exactly did the No.5 seed from the West defy the odds and punch its ticket to the NBA Final?

For many, the answer rests in the hands of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

The stars have been aligned for Slovenia’s Doncic since he entered the league. In his short six years, the 25-year-old is already a five-time NBA All-Star, NBA Scoring Champion and now a Western Conference Finals MVP.

His ascent has been something special but, crucially, he is not alone. Irving, the All-Star guard who was traded to the Mavericks in 2023, has assumed the role of foil perfectly.

Together the pair have averaged 51.6 points, 14.0 assists and 13.5 rebounds in the postseason, proving a headache to all defences they have faced. They are so creative and explosive that people around the game have now been asking if Doncic and Irving might be the best backcourt pairing ever.

It’s a lofty question. Certainly, they are proving formidable and Boston will be preparing to stop them accordingly.

The return of Kristaps Porzingis?

Boston centre Kristaps Porzingis, one of last summer’s major trades, went down in the first round of the playoffs with a right calf strain. The injury sidelined him from subsequent action with many assuming that the Latvian would not play any role in the Celtics’ quest for an NBA title.

But there have since been positive signs from Porzingis including a pledge by the big to return to action. On Wednesday (29 May), he shared his intention to return on social media:

“Thank you to everyone who supports and sympathizes throughout the season. I’ll be back in line soon. See you in the finals.”

He finished the post also indicating that he intends to play for the Latvian national team in this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament in July.

Though the Celtics managed to get through the Eastern Conference with little trouble, there is little doubt that Porizingis would provide a strong match against the Mavericks.

History for Boston?

The spectre of history looms large for Boston.

If the Celtics prevail against the Mavericks they will break their tie with the Los Angeles Lakers and become the most successful NBA franchise in history with 18 titles.

It would be a big moment and one many feel has been a long time coming.

The Celtics have been in the conference finals in six of the past eight years, their last shot at a title back in 2022 ended in heartbreaking defeat. Expectations are that now is the time to deliver and the signs all point in that direction.

They will enter the Finals 12-2 in the postseason, on a seven-game win streak and the No.1 seed in the East.

But will they do it?

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