NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Celtics Clamp Down, Take 2-0 Lead in NBA Finals with 105-98 Win Over Mavericks

nba finals game 2 mavs celtics
Photo Courtesy of The Dallas Morning News

Jrue Holiday leads balanced Boston Cetlics attack with 26 points, Derrick White seals win with clutch block as Celtics stifle Luka Doncic’s triple-double, 105-98 in Game 2 of their 2024 NBA Finals

Despite Doncic’s impressive performance, Boston’s defense and collective effort prove too much for Dallas as they head back home down 0-2.


Table of Contents

NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Jrue Holiday’s Leadership

Holiday stepped up as the leading scorer (26 points) and rebounder (11 rebounds) for Boston.

  • Go-to scorer: Holiday emerged as the primary offensive weapon, stepping up when Jayson Tatum struggled with his shot. His 26 points ensured a consistent scoring threat for Boston.
  • Double-Double Machine: Not only did he lead in scoring, but his 11 rebounds showcased his hustle and ability to contribute on both ends of the court.
  • Facilitator: While leading the scoring, Holiday likely didn’t dominate ball possession. He might have found scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates through smart passing decisions.
  • Confidence Boost: Holiday’s strong performance could have boosted the team’s confidence, especially when Tatum wasn’t at his best. It showed they could rely on different players to step up offensively.
  • Defensive Disruption: Holiday is also known for his defense. He disrupted passing lanes, pressured Luka Doncic on the perimeter, or made key steals throughout the game.
  • Leadership: Holiday is a veteran point guard known for his leadership. His performance, both statistically and through on-court demeanor, have been a calming influence and a motivating factor for his teammates.

He didn’t just score, but also facilitated the offense with his passing, creating scoring opportunities for his teammates.

  • Floor General: Holiday took on the role of the primary ball-handler, initiating the offense and orchestrating plays. This involved reading the Mavericks’ defense, exploiting weaknesses, and making quick decisions with the ball.
  • Pick-and-Roll Maestro: Holiday is known for his effectiveness in pick-and-roll situations. He used screens effectively to create space for himself or his rolling teammate, leading to scoring opportunities inside or kick-out passes for open jumpers.
  • High Basketball IQ: Great facilitators like Holiday possess a high basketball IQ. He read the Mavericks’ defensive rotations and adjusted his passing strategy accordingly. For example, if the Mavericks were collapsing on drives, he might have found open shooters on the perimeter.
  • Chemistry with Teammates: Holiday’s effectiveness as a facilitator also relies on his established chemistry with his teammates. They understand his tendencies and know where to cut or position themselves for scoring opportunities based on his passes.
  • Balanced Scoring: By creating scoring opportunities for his teammates, Holiday helped distribute the offensive load. This prevented the Mavericks from solely focusing on shutting down Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
  • Efficient Offense: Smart passing leads to easier scoring opportunities. Holiday’s playmaking helped the Celtics generate a higher offensive efficiency, even when their jump shots weren’t falling consistently.
  • Unpredictability: With Holiday facilitating, the Celtics’ offense becomes less predictable. Opponents can’t just focus on shutting down one or two scorers, as Holiday can create scoring opportunities for any teammate on the court.

By stepping up as both a scorer and a facilitator, Jrue Holiday was instrumental in the Celtics’ Game 2 victory. His leadership and playmaking ability were key factors in their balanced offensive attack.

NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Derrick White’s Defensive Heroics

  • Game-saving block: White’s chase-down block on the final Mavericks’ possession secured the win for Boston.
  • Defensive Disruption: Along with the block, White’s three steals throughout the game disrupted the Mavericks’ offensive rhythm.

NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Tatum and Brown’s All-around Game

Despite a shooting slump, Tatum contributed significantly with 12 assists and 9 rebounds, showcasing his playmaking ability.

Both Tatum and Brown were impactful defenders, with Brown adding 3 steals to his scoring performance.

NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Tatum’s Defensive Presence
  • Perimeter Lockdown: Despite not being the primary defender on Luka Doncic, Tatum’s size and athleticism made it difficult for Doncic to get comfortable driving to the basket. He used his length to contest jump shots and disrupt passing lanes in the passing lanes.
  • Help Defense: A good defender is also aware of teammates’ assignments and provides help when needed. Tatum have been crucial in rotating on screens, collapsing on drives, and contesting shots at the rim.
  • Box-Out Hustle: Rebounding is a key aspect of defense. Tatum’s 9 rebounds showcase his hustle and ability to box out Mavericks’ big men, preventing them from grabbing offensive rebounds and creating second-chance opportunities.
NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Brown’s Defensive Prowess
  • Ball Hawk: Brown’s 3 steals highlight his anticipation and ability to read passing lanes. These steals resulted in fast breaks or transition baskets for the Celtics, creating easy scoring opportunities.
  • Perimeter Defender: Similar to Tatum, Brown’s defensive assignment might not have been Doncic all game, but his defensive focus helped contain Washington and Irving.
  • On-Ball Defense: Brown is known for his tenacious on-ball defense. He used his quickness and physicality to pressure Mavericks’ guards on the perimeter, making it difficult for them to initiate their offense.
  • Disrupting the Mavericks’ Offense: Tatum and Brown’s defensive efforts likely disrupted the Mavericks’ offensive rhythm. They forced Luka Doncic to work harder for his points, limited open looks for his teammates, and created turnovers that led to Celtics’ points.
  • Boosting Team Morale: Seeing their stars hustle on defense can be contagious. Tatum and Brown’s defensive intensity lifted the entire team’s defensive effort and created a more cohesive defensive unit.
  • Complementary Skills: Tatum’s size and length complement Brown’s quickness and on-ball pressure. Together, they create a versatile defensive duo that can switch assignments and defend multiple positions effectively.

Their focus on facilitating the offense instead of forcing shots demonstrates their unselfishness and understanding of team needs.

NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Reading the Defense
  • Identifying Open Teammates: Tatum and Brown recognized that the Mavericks’ defense was focused on shutting them down. Instead of forcing contested shots, they used their scoring threats to draw defenders and create scoring opportunities for open teammates.
  • Capitalizing on Mismatches: Their ability to handle the ball and attack the basket have allowed them to identify mismatches in the post. They then kick the ball out to open shooters or find cutters for easy layups.
  • Playing Within the Flow of the Offense: Sticking to the Celtics’ offensive sets and making quick decisions with the ball prevented them from becoming predictable or stagnant on offense. This kept the Mavericks’ defense guessing and created open looks for others.
NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Impact on Team Chemistry
  • Building Trust: By prioritizing good shots over forcing their own offense, Tatum and Brown demonstrate trust in their teammates’ abilities. This fosters a positive team environment and strengthens overall team chemistry.
  • Creating Scoring Opportunities for Others: Their focus on facilitating opened up scoring opportunities for role players like Derrick White, Peyton Pritchard, Holiday or Al Horford. This keeps the offense unpredictable and prevents the Mavericks from solely focusing on shutting down Tatum and Brown.
  • Sustainable Offense: A team that relies solely on its stars for scoring is susceptible to struggles when those stars have off nights. By facilitating and creating open looks for others, Tatum and Brown contribute to a more sustainable and balanced offensive attack.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla’s coaching philosophy and emphasis on team play likely contributed to Tatum and Brown’s unselfish approach.

By prioritizing facilitating the offense over forcing shots, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown displayed not only their basketball IQ but also their commitment to team success. This unselfish playmaking was a key factor in the Celtics’ Game 2 victory.


NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Boston’s Collective Effort

Five Celtics players scored in double digits, showcasing their depth and ability to win even when a star player has an off night. With Holiday’s 26 points leads the team, Jayson Tatum’s 18 points, Jalen Brown’s 21 points, Derriick White’s 18 points and Kristaps Porzingis 12 points

From Peyton Pritchard’s buzzer-beater to White’s block, several Celtics stepped up with timely plays to maintain the lead.

  • Momentum Shifter: With the score close entering the 4th quarter, Pritchard’s improbable half-court heave injected a surge of energy into the Celtics crowd. This momentum swing could have been crucial in maintaining Boston’s lead in the final period.
  • Confidence Booster: For a young player like Pritchard, hitting such a clutch shot can significantly boost his confidence. It also sends a message to the entire team that anyone can contribute to winning plays.
  • Highlight Reel Material: This buzzer-beater will likely be on highlight reels for a long time. It showcases Pritchard’s shooting ability and his potential to be a sparkplug for the Celtics’ offense.
  • Game-Saving Stop: With the Mavericks threatening to close the deficit and Celtics only leading by a merly 5 points 103-98 the final seconds, White’s chase-down block on P.J. Washington’s attempted dunk made sp,e breathing room for the Celtics. This defensive play prevented the Mavs to close the deficit and showcased White’s hustle and defensive instincts.
  • Defensive Intensity: This block serves as a microcosm of the Celtics’ defensive effort throughout the game. They never gave up on a play and were determined to contest every shot.
  • Momentum Killer: The block not only prevented a basket but also deflated the Mavericks’ spirits and momentum just as they were on the verge of a comeback.

These clutch plays by multiple players exemplify the importance of teamwork in basketball.

The Celtics weren’t reliant on just two superstars; they had a collective focus on making winning plays throughout the game.

This unselfishness and commitment to team success were key factors in their victory.

  • Defensive Adjustments: After allowing Doncic to score freely in the first three quarters, the Celtics likely adjusted their defensive strategy to specifically limit him in the fourth.
    • Double-teaming Doncic on ball screens: Forcing him to give up the ball and make difficult passes.
    • Stronger on-ball defense: Assigning a physical defender (potentially Brown or White) to stay glued to Doncic and make it difficult for him to get comfortable.
    • Help defense rotations: Collapsing on Doncic when he drives to the basket, preventing him from getting easy layups or drawing fouls.
  • Limiting Playmaking: Doncic’s effectiveness goes beyond just scoring. The Celtics might have focused on disrupting his passing lanes and making it difficult for him to find open teammates for easy baskets.
  • Reduced Scoring Output: Doncic only scored 3 points in the fourth quarter, a significant drop from his overall performance. This limited the Mavericks’ offensive production and prevented them from mounting a serious comeback.
  • Frustration and Fatigue: Facing constant defensive pressure can be frustrating for any player. Doncic have become frustrated by the Celtics’ defensive intensity, leading to forced shots and turnovers. Additionally, the extra effort required to fight through screens and dribble through double-teams could have fatigued him in the later stages of the game.
  • Team Defense Effort: Shutting down Doncic wasn’t a one-man job. The entire Celtics team likely communicated effectively on switches, rotations, and defensive assignments, creating a cohesive defensive unit that stifled the Mavericks’ offense.
  • Momentum Swing: Doncic’s limited production in the fourth coincided with the Celtics extending their lead. This defensive effort effectively stopped the Mavericks’ momentum and prevented them from getting back into the game.
  • Defensive Intensity: The Celtics’ defensive intensity likely remained high throughout the fourth quarter. They didn’t allow any easy baskets and contested every shot, making it difficult for the Mavericks to find a rhythm offensively.
  • Adaptability: The Celtics’ defense might have adjusted throughout the game based on the Mavericks’ offensive schemes. This adaptability allowed them to stay a step ahead and make the necessary adjustments to shut down their late-game push.

By tightening their defense in the fourth quarter and specifically limiting Luka Doncic’s scoring opportunities, the Boston Celtics effectively shut down the Mavericks’ late rally and secured a crucial Game 2 victory. Their defensive focus and execution were a cornerstone of their success.

NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Responding to Kidd’s Tactics

  • Unfazed by Mind Games: Coach Kidd’s attempt to create tension by calling Brown the better player backfired. The Celtics remained focused on their team approach.
  • Strength in Duality: Holiday’s statement highlights Boston’s advantage in having two All-Star scorers who can carry the load on different nights.

NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Overcoming Shooting Woes

  • Slow Start: Boston struggled with three-point shooting throughout the game, but didn’t let it deter them from finding other ways to score.
  • Adaptability: The Celtics adjusted their strategy, focusing on driving to the basket and creating scoring opportunities through ball movement.


Irving’s poor performance against his former team extends his losing streak to 12 games.

  • Psychological Barrier: Irving’s 12-game losing streak against the Celtics highlights a potential mental hurdle he faces when playing his former team. This could be due to a desire to prove himself, leading to forced shots or uncharacteristic decision-making.
  • Familiarity Breeds Contempt: The Celtics likely have a deep understanding of Irving’s tendencies and playing style from his time with them. They use this knowledge to anticipate his moves and exploit weaknesses in his game.
  • Offensive Inefficiency: Scoring only 16 points falls short of Irving’s usual offensive production. He has struggled with his shot selection, decision-making, or the Celtics’ defensive pressure.
  • Missed Opportunities: Irving acknowledging missed opportunities.
    • Failing to convert scoring chances in the lane.
    • Not creating enough scoring opportunities for himself or his teammates.
    • Turning the ball over at key moments in the game.
  • Increased Pressure on Doncic: With Irving’s struggles, the offensive burden falls more heavily on Luka Doncic. This can lead to fatigue and make it easier for the Celtics to focus their defensive efforts on him.
  • Limited Scoring Options: Without Irving as a consistent scoring threat, the Mavericks’ offensive becomes more predictable. The Celtics can focus more on shutting down Doncic and gamble on double-teams knowing the offensive threat from Irving is diminished.
  • Frustration and Demoralization: A poor performance against his former team could be frustrating for Irving, potentially impacting his morale and confidence. This can negatively affect his overall game and the team’s energy.
  • Trade Acquisition: The Mavericks acquired Irving hoping he would share the offensive load with Doncic. His struggles raise questions about whether he can consistently perform at a high level, especially against teams he’s familiar with.
  • Fan Discontent: Irving’s poor performance might add to the frustration of the Dallas fans, who are eager to see their team win a championship. This could create a tense atmosphere and put additional pressure on the players.

NBA FINALS GAME 2 MAVS CELTICS – Looking Ahead: A Pivotal Shift in the NBA Finals – Celtics Lead 2-0

The Boston Celtics’ dominant performance in Game 2 puts them in a commanding position, leading the NBA Finals 2-0.

  • Confidence Boost: Winning the first two games at home provides a significant confidence boost for the Celtics. They’ve proven they can be successful against the Mavericks.
  • Defensive Discipline: The Celtics’ ability to adjust their defense and limit Luka Doncic in the fourth quarter is a positive sign. They’ll aim to maintain this defensive intensity throughout the series.
  • Urgency to Respond: Down 0-2, the pressure is on the Mavericks to win the next 2 games at home. They need to make significant adjustments to avoid falling into a deeper hole.
  • Offensive Strategies: Finding ways to get Kyrie Irving more involved and creating better scoring opportunities for role players are crucial for the Mavericks’ offensive success.
  • Improved Defense: The Mavericks’ defense needs to be more consistent throughout the game. They can’t afford to allow the Celtics’ supporting cast to have big nights offensively.

The series is far from over, but the Celtics’ early lead gives them significant control.

While the Mavericks have the talent to compete, they need to find solutions to their problems and play with a sense of urgency to avoid falling behind 0-3.


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