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Celtics strike first in NBA Finals

Boston crushed the Mavericks 107-89 in Game 1, marked by a stellar return from Kristaps Porzingis.

Doncic domina y pone a los Mavericks por delante en la serie

(Cordon Press)

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The Boston Celtics defeated the Dallas Mavericks 107-89 Thursday in the first game of the NBA Finals. One of the keys was the stellar return of Kristaps Porzingis, who had been out since April 29 due to a muscle injury. He scored 20 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and had 3 blocks in 21 minutes against his former team. Luka Doncic, the star of these playoffs so far, shone for the Mavs with 30 points and 10 rebounds in his debut in the NBA Finals, but it was not enough to match the Celtics.

Doncic, alone in the face of danger

Pushed by their fans, the Celtics did not suffer in the least from a subpar night from Jayson Tatum, who recorded 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Jaylen Brown scored 22 points. Boston, who lost two years ago in the Finals against the Golden State Warriors, showed their experience against the Mavericks, who are the unexpected surprise on the big stage after they finished in fifth place in the Western Conference in the regular season.

Doncic, who averages almost 9 assists per game in this postseason, had only 1 against Boston due to the lack of effectiveness of his teammates, especially Irving (6-19 shooting), who was welcomed with enormous boos from his former fans.

Porzingis' Revenge

The NBA Finals got underway amid a vibrant atmosphere at TD Garden, where Spaniard Pep Guardiola, Manchester City coach, was in the front row, wearing a sweater from the home team. After an even first five minutes, the game took a turn when Porzingis entered the court for veteran Dominican center Al Horford (10 points and 7 rebounds).

Ultra-motivated, the Latvian center did not take long to demand the ball and do damage on both sides of the court to the Mavericks, the team that traded him to the Wizards in 2022 after three disappointing seasons in which he had a rocky relationship with Doncic. In just four minutes, Porzingis scored 8 consecutive points for the Celtics, giving the home team its first surge without the need for scoring from Tatum, who took 10 minutes to score his first basket.

Porzingis, who showed no signs of rust after his injury, finished with 18 points in the first half, in which Boston dominated by a resounding score of 63-42. "Obviously it wasn't ideal that I was out for such a long time, but I did everything I could to prepare mentally for this moment coming back and it paid off," declared the 7-footer, who had not played since the first round of the playoffs against Miami.

"Getting that kind of support was unreal. The adrenaline was pumping through my veins and that definitely helped," said Porzingis, one of the two big offseason additions for the Celtics this season along with Jrue Holiday.

Near comeback from Dallas after halftime

Upon returning from the locker room came Dallas' attempted comeback and the only stretch in which Irving showed signs of life. The Mavericks got within 8 points with four minutes left in the third quarter, but Porzingis himself stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer that sparked a 14-0 run for the home team that all but settled the game.

With five minutes left, coach Jason Kidd pulled the Mavericks' starters ahead of Game 2 Sunday in Boston.