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The 2024 NBA Finals: Celtics fan predicts outcome

2024 NBA finals. Canva Illustration by Audrey Trevarthan.

Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals is set to kick off Thursday, June 6 with the eastern conference champions, the Boston Celtics, hosting the western conference champions, the Dallas Mavericks.

The Celtics open as the favorites to win the series, according to DraftKings. The team enters the finals with a league-best 64-18 record, along with a 12-2 postseason record. 

During the regular season, the Celtics finished number one in offensive rating and second in defensive rating. These numbers have mostly translated into the playoffs, as the Celtics are currently second in postseason offensive rating and third in postseason defensive rating.

Boston’s biggest question mark is their all-star center Kristaps Porziņģis, who suffered a calf strain in their Game 4 victory over the Miami Heat in the first round.

Porziņģis is expected to return for Game 1 according to The New York Times, though the Celtics have yet to officially clear him to play.

The Dallas Mavericks enter the NBA finals with a 50-32 record. Despite being the 5-seed to begin the playoffs, the Mavs found a way to get to the finals by beating three 50-win teams.

Dallas started their season 29-23 before acquiring forward PJ Washington and center Daniel Gafford from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for forward Grant Williams. 

Both Washington and Gafford played pivotal roles for the Mavericks, going 21-9 to finish out the season. During the postseason, Washington posted three straight 20-point games to help the Mavs beat the number-one seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the second round.

The contribution from their two-star players, Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving, has also propelled the team this far, with the duo averaging nearly 52 points-per-game combined this postseason.

Yet, the biggest reason the Mavericks have clinched a trip to the finals has been the team’s defense. 

During the regular season, the Mavericks stood eighteenth in defensive rating. However, their defensive intensity rose in the playoffs to give them the seventh-ranked defense this postseason. 

This defensive improvement is in large part due to the length and athleticism brought by Washington and Gafford.

Kristaps Porziņģis and Kyrie Irving loom to get revenge against their former teams

On the Celtics side, Porziņģis was originally a Maverick for roughly three seasons. He was acquired from the New York Knicks in January 2019 to pair with eventual Rookie-of-the-Year winner Luka Dončić. Porziņģis debuted with the team at the start of the next season, due to an ACL injury suffered during the 2017-18 season.

Despite averaging north of 20 points-per-game for the Mavericks, Porziņģis was dealt to the Washington Wizards at the trade deadline in February 2022, due to reports that he and Dončić never meshed well as a duo.

The Celtics would eventually acquire Porziņģis in a three-team deal during the 2023 offseason, in what is seen as an “all-in” push.

On the Mavericks’ side, their all-star point guard Kyrie Irving was formerly a Celtic for two seasons.

The eight-time all-star was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics in the summer of 2017. 

Although Irving’s first year as a Celtic went smoothly with a 55-27 record, he would be sidelined for the 2018 playoffs requiring surgery on his left knee.

The Celtics would go on to advance to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to the Cavaliers in seven games, leading to many fans believing that Boston did not need Irving to win.

After making his return during the 2018-19 season, the Celtics were plagued with drama on and off the court, resulting in a 49-33 record and a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs.

After what many saw as a disappointing season, fans across the league began to believe that Kyrie Irving was to blame for the Celtics’ struggles. 

Many current and former members as well as players from the Celtics organization have said Irving was not the root of Boston’s problems that season, citing too many egos in the locker room and poor roster construction.

Irving is still viewed by many Celtics fans distastefully, resulting in a long-documented feud between the player and spectators at Boston’s TD Garden.

Regardless of outcome, Grant Williams will watch his former team win a championship

The biggest loser to come out of the finals is the former Celtic and Maverick Grant Williams.

Williams was originally traded to Dallas from the Celtics during the 2023 offseason after Boston opted not to pay the 6’6” forward. 

After receiving a four-year $53 million contract, Williams reportedly did not fit in with the Dallas locker room and was shipped off to Charlotte.

Now, Williams must watch as both of his former teams compete to win the Larry O’Brien trophy.


It must be said that I am a Celtics fan and I believe the Celtics will beat the Mavericks.

With that being said, the majority of the NBA would agree that the Celtics are the better team both on paper and in practice.

Despite many narratives that the Boston Celtics have not been properly battle-tested against an admittedly poor (and injured) eastern conference, the game of basketball seldom punishes NBA teams for their competition leading up to the finals.

This can be seen with this year’s defending NBA champion, the Denver Nuggets, whose best playoff opponent record-wise was the 45-37 Phoenix Suns in the second round of last year’s playoffs.

Although that Suns team featured names such as Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul, it was made clear during the series that the Suns were not better than their record. Phoenix’s inability to guard the Nuggets offense and a lack of production from their non-stars proved to be their greatest downfall.

Another example is the 1987 Los Angeles Lakers, who won the NBA Championship against the then-defending champion Celtics in six games. Despite being considered one of the greatest teams of all time, the 65-17 Lakers faced opponents before the finals with win totals of 37, 42 and 39 respectively.

The Celtics have not only been the best team in the NBA all regular season and playoffs, but if Kristaps Porziņģis is healthy, it is unlikely that the Mavericks will have any counter to Boston’s ultimate “get-out-of-jail-free card.”

Prediction: Celtics win in 6 games.

Catch Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals Thursday, June 6 on ABC. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.

Michael Neenan is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Michael Neenan, General Assignment Reporter
Michael is a senior journalism major with a public relations minor. He works as a reporter, covering topics from sports to university administration. Contact him at [email protected]

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