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NBA Finals: 3 Keys For The Celtics To Clinch The Title In Game 5

The Celtics are looking to clinch the NBA Finals.

After going up 3-0 in the NBA Finals the Celtics lost in a 38-point blowout forcing a Game 5 in Boston. Now the Celtics have a chance to win the title on their home floor. However, a Game 4 performance can’t happen again. Let’s dive into how the Celtics can close out the series and win the title.

NBA Finals: 3 Keys For The Celtics To Clinch The Title In Game 5

High Intensity Yet Purposeful Play

Oftentimes desperation can be an advantage when down big in a series. This was certainly the case in Game 4. The Mavericks came out aggressively relentlessly attacking the rim and notably unlocked another level of defensive intensity. While the Celtics felt tight and lacked decisiveness on both ends of the floor. Leading to lackluster defensive rotations and disjointed offensive possessions. It will be crucial for the Celtics to not overthink things and stick to what worked in the first three games.

On a different note, the Mavericks have outscored the Celtics in paint each game. However, there was no paint disparity greater than Game 4 when the Mavericks outscored the Celtics 60 to 26 in the paint. Defensively the Celtics will have to provide more interior resistance. This will be challenging with Kristaps Porzingis likely out and Dereck Lively‘s emergence in the past two games. As a result, Al Horford’s defense will be even more important. Offensively Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will have to pressure the rim more to match the Mavericks’ paint scoring.

In each of the first three games the Celtics were able to hold Dallas under 100 points. Somewhat containing the scoring threats of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving through their switch-heavy defensive scheme was vital to this early success. However, in Game 4 the Celtics gave up 122 points while only scoring 84. The Celtics will have to get back to their previous level of defensive intensity and execution to see success. Offensively the Celtics have to make quicker decisions and find better looks. Notably in Game 4, the Celtics had nine percent fewer open shots than the Mavericks. Overall, the Celtics will need to play with a clear purpose on both ends of the floor while meeting the proper intensity level of a finals-clinching game.

Elite Ball Movement

The Celtics’ elite ball movement and everyone-eats style offense have been vital to their success all season long. The Celtics are averaging 24 assists compared to the Mavericks 16.5 on the series. In all of their wins, the Celtics had more assists than the Mavericks two of these games were by at least 10. Furthermore, in the series the Celtics have made 63 total more passes.

However, in Game 4 the Mavericks had 21 assists compared to Boston’s 18. A crucial part of the Celtics’ game plan has been limiting Luka and Kyrie as playmakers with their switch-heavy defensive approach. Especially taking away their wings’ corner three attempts and lob threats. The Celtics must execute this defensive strategy in Game 5. Offensively the drive-and-kick game from Tatum and Brown will be crucial. Ultimately, if the Celtics win expect them to have a big assist night.

Win the Three-point Battle

Notably, in all but two of the Celtics playoff wins they have outshot their opponent from three, and in all three of their losses, they have been outshot from beyond the arc. Throughout the first three games of the finals, the Celtics shot a higher percentage and had more three-point attempts. However, in Game 4 the Mavericks shot 40 percent from three compared to Boston’s 34 percent. In a 38-point blowout, this can’t be the main difference-maker.

Nevertheless, the deep ball has been a crucial part of the Celtics offensive identity and success all season. Additionally, a 12 percent three-point difference in Game 1 was a key reason why the Celtics won by 18 points. This is the main reason why Joe Mazzulla focuses on three-pointers so much: winning the three-point battle allows you to build and maintain big leads. Look for Brown and Tatum to find Derrick White and Jrue Holiday on high-percentage drive-and-kick shots. If the Celtics win they will in all likelihood outshoot the Mavericks from three and a massive three-point difference could allow them to win in a blowout fashion.


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