Celtics vs. Mavericks score, takeaways: Luka Doncic, Dallas prevent NBA Finals sweep with Game 4 blowout win (2024)

The Mavs won Game 4 by 38 points, denying Boston a championship-clinching win

By Brad Botkin

1 min read

The Dallas Mavericks are not getting swept in the 2024 NBA Finals as they dismantled the Boston Celtics for a 122-84 Game 4 win on Friday night in Dallas. The Celtics still lead the best-of-seven championship series, 3-1, but they were denied a sweep with their first loss since May 9.

Luka Doncic finished with 29 points for the Mavs, who led by 26 points at halftime and never looked back. The 38-point victory marks the third-largest win in NBA Finals history.

Kyrie Irving added 21 points for the Mavericks, who shot over 50% from the field through three quarters and held the Celtics to just 35 first-half points. Rookie big man Dereck Lively II was excellent off the bench for Dallas, posting 11 points and 12 rebounds. Lively even hit the first 3-pointer of his NBA career in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the Celtics shot an abysmal 29.7% from the floor in the first half of Game 4, and they hit only 14 of their 41 3-point attempts in the game. They pulled their starters before the end of the third quarter. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown -- who scored 61 points in Game 3 -- combined for just 25 points (15 from Tatum, 10 from Brown) on 7-for-22 shooting.

The Celtics lost for the first time since Game 2 of the second round against the Cavaliers, and they are now 15-3 in these playoffs. This was their first road loss of the postseason, and the loss snapped a seven-game winning streak against the Mavs (regular and postseason combined).

The Mavericks still have a tall task ahead if they want to prevent the Celtics from raising their 18th championship banner in franchise history. No team in NBA history has ever come back to win a best-of-seven series after falling behind 3-0 in 156 previous instances.

Game 5 is set for Monday in Boston.

Here are three takeaways from Dallas' Game 4 win:

Luka Doncic responds

I have been highly critical of Doncic's defense in this series, and I wasn't alone in that sentiment. He was atrocious through the first three games. Give him credit for actually trying defensively in Game 4, though it begs the question as to why he wasn't able to give this kind of effort in the first three games.

Nonetheless, Doncic was terrific on both ends in Game 4 with 29 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals against just one turnover. Doncic did all his damage early, becoming the third youngest player in history to record 25 points in the first half of a Finals game. The only players to do so at a younger age were Kyrie Irving in 2017 and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1986, per NBA history.

The only thing Doncic didn't do well was shoot as he was 0-for-8 from 3, but he was in the paint and finishing at his midrange spots and at the rim from the jump. Hell, he didn't even complain at the refs -- though there wasn't much to be upset about in this one. We'll see if this trend continues.

Mavs put D in Dallas

Dallas couldn't keep Boston out of the paint through the first three games to save its life, but it was a different story in Game 4, when the Celtics managed just 35 first-half points.

Doncic's willingness to at least try to cut off penetration has already been noted, and he wasn't alone as Dallas was into Boston's space and being physical at the point of attack from the outset. Everyone communicated. Everyone rotated. Everyone closed out and moved their feet.

They were flying around ...

And then, when Boston did get into the paint, every shot was contested near the rim. Through the first three quarter, the Celtics scored just 20 points in the paint, 36 fewer than Dallas' 56. That's your ballgame.

Kyrie breaks Boston losing streak

This is pretty hard to believe, but Friday night marks the first time Irving has defeated the Celtics in over three years. He was marred by a 13-game losing streak that dated back to the Brooklyn Nets' Game 5 win over the Celtics in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, when Irving scuffed his shoe across Lucky the Leprechaun at half-court of Boston's TD Garden.

Irving has performed far below his standards in these games vs. Boston, and that held true through the first two games of this series. He got it going in Game 3, and he kept it up in Game 4 with 21 points and six assists on an efficient 10-of-18 shooting.

Like Doncic, the only thing that Irving didn't do well was shoot from beyond the arc, where he finished 1-of-6, but he was penetrating on his terms immediately, and once he was in rhythm and the court was opened up due to Dallas' overall rhythm, he settled into a very comfortable scoring night.

Dallas will need plenty more of that if it's going to get this series back to home court in Game 5. Something tells me the Boston fans are going to be a little more vocal with him on Monday with a chance to close out the championship on their home turf.

Celtics vs. Mavericks score, takeaways: Luka Doncic, Dallas prevent NBA Finals sweep with Game 4 blowout win (2024)
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