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NBA Finals: Mavericks look to end Celtics' dream season

The world's top basketball league will have its sixth different champion in six years. Doncic and Tatum will duel for Finals MVP.

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This Thursday begins the final series in the world's best basketball league. The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, after becoming champions of the East and West, respectively, will compete in the NBA Finals with the aim of adding a new Larry O'Brien trophy to their cabinet. The Celtics open as a big favorite given the dominant year they have had, both in the regular season and in the playoffs, although they should not be overconfident against the Mavs, who had an end to the campaign worthy of applause.

Between the Celtics and the Mavericks, there is a huge difference in terms of the number of NBA titles. Boston is the most successful franchise in history, along with the Lakers, with 17 banners to their credit. The last time they won it all was in 2008, when they defeated the Lakers 4-2. On the other hand, the Mavericks only appear once on the list of NBA champions. They achieved glory in 2011, when, led by Dirk Nowitzki, they beat the Miami Heat 4-2.

The dominance of the Celtics and the rise of the Mavericks

The difference between both franchises this season is significant. During the regular season, the Celtics encountered virtually no opposition in the Eastern Conference. They devastated and subdued, without complications or mercy, the rest of their rivals, to conclude the regular season with a record of 64-18 and as the undisputed No. 1 seed.

It was more difficult for the Mavericks to seal their trip for the postseason. They had a start to the season full of doubts, something that extended until the final stages of the regular season, when they stepped on the accelerator and managed to qualify for the NBA Playoffs. They recorded 50 wins and 32 losses, finishing fifth in the Western Conference.

The outlook for the Celtics in the playoffs did not change, and they continued at their pace, easily beating the three teams they faced, the Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers. They have not needed to play beyond the fifth game in each of the opening rounds, compiling a record of 12 wins and 2 losses. In the first round, they beat the Heat 4-1, the same result they obtained in the semifinals against the Cavaliers. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they crushed the Pacers (4-0).

Unlike the regular season, the Mavericks had less trouble in the playoffs, with a record of 12 wins and 5 losses. In the first round, they said goodbye to the Los Angeles Clippers in six games (4-2), the same as in the semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder (4-2), champions of the Western Conference in the regular season. They won the title of conference champions after defeating Anthony Edwards' Minnesota Timberwolves 4-1.

Doncic vs. Tatum: The duel for the Finals MVP

Emerging stars such as Jaylen Brown and Daniel Gafford and well-established names such as Kyrie Irving and Derrick White will occupy a prominent position within the strategies carried out by Joe Mazzulla and Jason Kidd, coaches of the Celtics and the Mavericks, respectively. But, without a doubt, there will be two players who will be the key to lifting their side to the title: Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic.

At 26 years old, Tatum has established himself as the undeniable leader of the Celtics. At the rate he is improving, he will end up sitting at the table with other great Celtics legends, like Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy and Paul Pierce, among others. In the regular season, he played 74 of the 82 games, averaging 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists. In the playoffs, he has practically maintained his scoring average (26 points) and improved in rebounds (10.4) and assists (5.9). Mazzulla, who praised his star and the influence he has on his teammates. He has designed a plan that revolves around the figure of Tatum, surrounded by the effective company of Brown, White and Porzingis.

On the other side of the court, the attention will be on Doncic. The 25-year-old Slovenian guard had the opportunity to share a locker room for a short period of time with the great Mavs legend, Dirk Nowitzki, who came to confess that there were many questions surrounding Doncic. "I wasn't sure that it was going to work. There were quite a few doubts within the team," the German basketball player stated a few months ago, in statements reported by the newspaper AS. But, as the seasons have progressed, his legend has grown, leading him to become Nowitzki's worthy successor. In the regular season, he nearly averaged a triple-double (33.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 9.8 assists). These stats are slightly better than those he recorded in the playoffs (28.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists).

Unless there is a surprise, one of the two will be named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the NBA Finals. Whether it is Tatum or Doncic will depend on which team wins and the performance of each one on the hardwood.

The AI ​​forecast

With the power that artificial intelligence (A.I.) has gained within the technology industry, it is common to see how different sectors take advantage of its scope to execute tasks. It is also used for other less professional functions, such as predicting sports outcomes.

Grok, the A.I. from xAI, a company founded and directed by Elon Musk, predicted that this season's NBA champion will be the Celtics, as reported by The Sporting News: "The Celtics have the advantage of having a more balanced and experienced squad, with players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford who provide scoring, defense and leadership." The Celtics are projected to take home the Larry O'Brien trophy in six games, although they will not have it easy at all: "The Mavericks have the best player in the series, Luka Doncic, and the potential to cause problems with their scoring and ultimately, the Celtics' experience and balanced roster should help them secure the championship in six games."

Speaking earlier about who will take home the Finals MVP, Grok is also clear: "Tatum's brilliance makes him a strong candidate for the award. He leads the Celtics in points, rebounds and assists, showing his versatility on the court. ... His performance in the playoffs has been exceptional."