On Wednesday evening, Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics will look to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their NBA Finals series vs the Dallas Mavericks, a deficit from which no team in NBA history has ever come back. Tatum has not shot the ball well at all in these finals but is finding other ways to get involved, including opening up space for his Celtics teammates like Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown to feast on an overmatched Mavericks defense.

At the end of Game 2 on Sunday evening, the Celtics got an injury scare when big man Kristaps Porzingis–who just recently returned from a calf injury that sidelined him for the majority of the play0ffs–suffered a rare lower leg injury that is apparently unrelated to the calf setback. The injury put his status in doubt for Game 3, but one person who thinks that the Celtics can still win two out of the next five games without the Latvian star is none other than franchise legend Paul Pierce, who recently took to FS1's Undisputed to relay his thoughts.

“Check this out. When Porzingis misses games, we're 9-1 in the playoffs. Regular season, 21-4. That makes us 30-5 without Porzingis. Am I worried? A little bit,” said Pierce, via UNDISPUTED on X, the social media platform formerly referred to as Twitter. “A little bit because he just adds such a dimension that we don't have. He definitely changed Game 1… but in saying that, the Celtics are comfortable without him in the lineup… It's not a demoralizing blow.”

Can the Celtics close the deal?

 Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) shoots the ball against Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) during the third quarter in game two of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden.
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Indeed, even without Kristaps Porzingis in the lineup, the Celtics clearly still have more talent overall than the Mavericks, although the gap does get a bit more narrow. As of Game 2, the Celtics have had five out of the six best players in the series so far, with only Dallas' Luka Doncic able to give the Mavericks any sort of consistent energy offensively, while he's been blown by consistently on the other end of the floor.

Former Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has now lost twelve straight games vs his old team since defeating them in the 2021 playoffs with the Brooklyn Nets, and his shooting struggles in this series so far have given continued legitimacy to the notion that the Celtics fans are in his head whenever he plays in TD Garden.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks' role players, including Derrick Jones Jr., Derrick Lively, and to a lesser extent PJ Washington, have all underperformed so far in this series, or perhaps it was that they overperformed on the Mavericks' playoff run thus far and are now careening back toward earth at the worst time. In any case, those players will all have to step up and help Doncic if the Mavericks are going to get one win in this series, let alone win four out of the next five, which seems pretty impossible at this point in time.

In any case, Game 3 is set for Wednesday at 8:30 PM ET.