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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The Mavericks dominate Game 4 of the NBA Finals, securing a 122-84 victory and preventing a Celtics sweep

The 38-point difference in the final score marked the third-largest margin ever recorded in an NBA Finals game.

Dallas — Luka Doncic erupted for 25 of his 29 points in a scintillating first half, while Kyrie Irving contributed 21 points as the Dallas Mavericks delivered a resounding response on Friday night, staving off elimination with a commanding 122-84 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

The Mavericks’ star players were able to rest by the end of the third quarter, a testament to their dominant performance. Dallas seized control right from the start, establishing a 13-point lead after the first quarter, extending it to a staggering 26 points by halftime, and ballooning to a peak advantage of 38 points in the third quarter before both teams cleared their benches.

The 38-point final margin stands as the third-largest in NBA Finals history, trailing only Chicago’s 96-54 thrashing of Utah in 1998 and Boston’s 131-92 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008.

Prior to Friday’s game, the Celtics’ most lopsided NBA Finals defeat had been a 137-104 loss to the Lakers in 1984. This defeat was considerably more devastating. Dallas’ lead in the fourth quarter reached an overwhelming 48 points — the largest deficit Boston has encountered all season.

Despite the setback, Boston maintains a 3-1 series lead, with Game 5 scheduled in Boston on Monday.

The defeat snapped Boston’s franchise-record 10-game winning streak in the postseason and dashed their hopes of becoming the first team in NBA history to sweep both the conference finals and the NBA Finals 4-0.

Jayson Tatum contributed 15 points, Sam Hauser added 14, and Jaylen Brown along with Jrue Holiday each scored 10 for the Celtics.

Tim Hardaway Jr. poured in 15 points, all in the final quarter, while Dereck Lively II posted 11 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas. Lively’s early 3-pointer, his first in the NBA, set the tone for the Mavericks’ dominant performance.

Dallas never looked back, maintaining their momentum throughout the game. They held a commanding 61-35 lead at halftime, despite leaving numerous points on the table with subpar shooting from three-point range (5 of 15) and the free-throw line (10 of 16).

For Boston, the game was marked by numerous low points, some of which etched their names in unfortunate history:

  • The Celtics’ 35 points in the first half represented their lowest-scoring total in any half during Joe Mazzulla’s two-year coaching tenure.
  • Boston faced a 26-point halftime deficit, their second-largest of the season, having previously trailed Milwaukee by 37 points on January 11.
  • The halftime deficit was Boston’s largest ever in an NBA Finals game, and their 35-point output was their second-worst in the first half of any Finals game, only surpassing a 31-point effort against the Lakers in Game 6 of the 2010 series.

Teams leading by 23 or more points at halftime had been 76-0 this season before Friday night — now 77-0, coincidentally mirroring Doncic’s jersey number.

Boston harbored hopes of a second-half resurgence to cap off a historic sweep, but Dallas quickly dispelled any such notions with a 15-7 run early in the third quarter, extending their lead to 76-42.

With any hope of a miraculous comeback dashed, Mazzulla withdrew all his starters simultaneously with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter and Dallas ahead comfortably at 88-52.

Dallas faces an uphill battle to overturn the series deficit, but their emphatic Game 4 victory marked a crucial first step in their quest.

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