2024 NBA Finals, Game 1 Review: Howling Mountainous Waves Upon The Parquet (2024)

The structural depth and variety of the Boston Celtics, the definitive reasons why they had no regular season peer, were on display in the first quarter of their eventual 107-89 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals.

Kristaps Porzingis made his long awaited return from a calf injury and his two-way play and the Boston Celtics’ three-point shooting allowed them to set the stakes in the first quarter for how good the Mavericks will need to be to compete, while Jaylen Brown’s all-around play in the third quarter sent the game back to blowout mode after the lead was cut to single digits. The Celtics were not going to characteristically make this game more interesting than it needed to be in the second half thanks to Brown.

Both teams were sharp in the first quarter coming off their extended break with a pair of expedited Conference Finals. Brown aggressively dove to the floor to secure the tip before the first possession ended with a Al Horford dribble drive from the corner for a dunk. It appeared Game 1 would be played at a high level and remain competitive.

But the game changed when Porzingis checked in for the first time.

Luka Doncic, who Boston held to one assist, made a step back three-pointer over his former teammate Porzingis after getting him on a switch.

Porzingis responded by shooting over Jaden Hardy from the left block on the next possession.

After the scoring stalled for a couple minutes, Porzingis turned the corner on Dereck Lively from near the right elbow to charge down the lane for a dunk. Porzingis then blocked Hardy and proceeded to shoot over Josh Green from the left elbow before Jason Kidd called a timeout to stop the run.

A Jayson Tatum three-pointer, his first points of the game after all of Boston’s balanced early scoring, was followed by a trail 30-footer from the Finals script to extend Boston’s lead to 14. Porzingis looks like he’s playing Pop-A-Shot with his right leg and upper body exaggerated toward the hoop and line drive three-point shot.

Porzingis then blocked a Kyrie Irving jumper and then Jrue Holiday found Sam Hauser in transition to extend the lead to 17 and stayed there with Porzingis blocking a breakaway dunk attempt from Green.

Joe Mazzulla emphasizes the math of three-pointers, but something bigger is happening on these runs.

When the Celtics play like this, they impart upon their opponents the feeling they are rising and falling with howling mountainous waves on the parquet.


Maybe it’s just the era we live in and what we choose to give attention to, but ever since the Celtics traded away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to jumpstart this era with the picks from the Brooklyn Nets that directly became Brown, Tatum, and indirectly, and also briefly, Kyrie Irving, this team has been most interesting in an extended fledgling state. They are built around a pair of two-way wing All-Stars in an era where two-way wings of any talent level are highly valuable and coveted.

All of the Danny Ainge almost traded for Paul George and Kawhi Leonard reports. The way Rich Paul blocked Boston from trading for Anthony Davis in 2019 to spoil their planned pairing of him with Irving. The losses in 2020 and 2023 to the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals. Stephen Curry’s transcendent Game 4 of the 2022 Finals and his night-night in a deciding Game 6 blowout a few days later. These moments have been more sustainably energizing than the moments they have come through. Tatum’s Game 6 in 2022 at the Milwaukee Bucks, or his Game 7 in 2023 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Brown’s three-pointer over Pascal Siakam to extend Game 1 of the Conference Finals this year to overtime. Tatum overcoming a bad Game 1 in that game to dominate the overtime.

You can snow globe these players onto different teams and into different situations, and they would probably be more compelling. How would this team be treated nationally if they were in another media market without the overtones treating them as eternal adolescents and without a pervading sense of entitlement?

Would they then feel more transcendent to us? Would the pervading skepticism fade?


The Celtics possessed a clear comfort level and confidence ahead of Game 1, acknowledging the standards of the franchise, their prior shortcomings, and the reality that the only thing that will change the narrative is beating Dallas four times over the next two weeks.

Boston made Doncic look uncomfortable as they rotated their deep collection of defenders on him. Brown picked him in the backcourt in the third for a breakaway dunk. Doncic will problem solve, but the Celtics unquestionably appeared overwhelming for the Mavericks in Game 1.

The Celtics have had a frustratingly extended prologue, but they are three wins away from finally vanquishing it.

2024 NBA Finals, Game 1 Review: Howling Mountainous Waves Upon The Parquet (2024)
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