The Dallas Mavericks faced an uphill battle against the Boston Celtics in the 2024 NBA Finals. Dallas gave a sound effort, but in the end, they lost the series 4-1 to Boston's two-way dominance. The Mavericks were deficient in several areas throughout the series, but the primary culprits of defeat to be examined are Kyrie Irving and the sheer defensive dominance of the Celtics.

Dallas entered the NBA Finals highly-touted due to how they handled their previous matchups in the Western Conference Playoffs. First, the Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 in what many were expecting to be a seven-game series. Then, Dallas impressively won their series against the first-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2.

The Mavs' most impressive series win came against the loaded Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals. The T-Wolves had beaten the reigning champion Denver Nuggets in seven games. Moreover, Minnesota possessed one of the best defensive lineups in the league. Nevertheless, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving dismantled the T-Wolves and helped the Mavs win in five games. The same could not be said in the NBA Finals against the Celtics though.

Luka Doncic continued to put on stout offensive performances. He averaged nearly 30 points per game throughout the entire series, but his backcourt partner struggled.

Kyrie Irving had a hard time dominating in the Mavericks-Celtics series

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) dribbles the ball against Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0)
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Irving started the Dallas series off with underwhelming scoring. He amassed just 12 points in Game 1 before totaling 16 in Game 2. Furthermore, Irving shot a lowly zero percent on three-pointers through his first two games. By the time the star forward got warmed up, the Mavs were down 2-0. Irving came out with a vengeance in Game 3, scoring 35 points and shooting a red-hot 66.7 percent on threes. Yet, Dallas lost and went down 3-0.

With his team facing elimination, Irving knew, he had to bring his best performance in Game 4. He captured Dallas' desperation with an intriguing metaphor.

“I just really think about going home and… this is a metaphor here so just be ready. Just go home, get the ammo ready,” Irving said, per ClutchPoints Mavericks Beat Reporter Joey Mistretta. “Get the bazooka… Get everything ready because when we come into Game 4 we know that we gotta shoot our shots. We gotta do it with an aggression.”

Thankfully, Irving brought the firepower in Game 4. He scored 28 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and totaled three steals. The shifty guard wanted the Mavericks to carry their momentum into another win-or-go-home situation on the Celtics' home court for Game 5, but Boston would not allow it.

Irving notched 15 points in his final game of the 2023-24 season, and Dallas' season came to an end with a 106-88 loss. A major reason Irving and the Mavs could not dominate was the Celtics' stifling defense.

The Celtics defense was too much for Irving and the Mavericks to handle

Boston held the Mavericks under 100 points in every game of the NBA Finals. The Celtics arguably boasted the mightiest defense in the NBA, and that was a major reason they stopped one of the best backcourt duos in league history. In addition to preventing Irving from getting what he wanted, the Celtics kept Luka Doncic relatively at bay.

Doncic has faced many stout defensive attacks, but Boston was different. Jaylen Brown made it his assignment to hit Doncic with everything he had, and his attack was highly effective. Brown amassed two three-steal games in addition to relentlessly pressing Doncic. His efforts helped Boston win the title and his first NBA Finals MVP award. However, he did not do it alone.

All-Defensive guards Derrick White and Jrue Holiday played a large role in resisting Doncic and Irving. The Celtics proved that defense does indeed win championships.

All in all, the Mavs put up a good fight. They will recover and build toward another strong showing in 2024-25. With the right execution, they will have a chance to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy in 2025 or beyond.