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Mavs eye equalizer vs Celtics

BOSTON – The Dallas Mavericks had to find an answer to Kristaps Porzingis and the Boston Celtics’ vaunted 3-point shooting if they want to give themselves a chance at winning the 2024 NBA Finals. 

The Celtics, sparked by Porzingis’ return and their 16-of-42 3-point shooting, demolished the Mavericks 107-89 in Game 1 Thursday (Friday Manila time) at TD Garden. 

“Their spacing is great and they have a lot of shooters,” Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic said after the loss. “So, I think we have to do a better job taking those threes away.”

Celtics president Brad Stevens did a tremendous job assembling a team of two-way players with plenty of shooting. 

Boston’s straight-up defense held Dallas to just nine assists and Doncic to a career-low one assist.

The Mavericks had more turnovers (11) than assists.

“I thought we were too much one-on-one,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said after Saturday (Sunday Manila time) practice. “We've got to move bodies. We've got to move the ball. Multiple guys have to touch the ball. We were just too stagnant, and that's not the way we play. We've got to be better tomorrow.”

The Mavericks are the underdogs again in Game 2: +220 at FanDuel and +310 at DraftKings (all game and series odds from different sportsbooks can be tracked at Bettor in Green). 

The backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Derrick White afforded the Celtics to defend Doncic and Kyrie Irving one-on-one. 

Irving was held to only 12 points on 6 of 19 shooting. 

“Give credit to Boston,” Kidd said. “But we believe that the shots that he got in Game 1 were great looks that just didn't go down.”

On the other end, six Boston players hit at least two 3-pointers each.

The Celtics centers — Al Horford and Porzingis — shot a combined 4-of-9 from the outside, drawing away Mavericks big men from protecting the rim.

Starter Daniel Gafford was minus-10 while rookie Dereck Lively II, who was sensational for Dallas in its Western Conference Finals win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, finished was a minus-15. 

Porzingis was the best center on the parquet floor in Game 1. 

“KP was great, he knocked down shots,” Kidd said after the loss. “He changed shots. He blocked shots. He gave them a spark when he