Celtics-Mavs takeaways: Holiday leads C's to thrilling Game 2 win


Celtics-Mavs takeaways: Holiday leads C’s to thrilling Game 2 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics will head to Dallas with a commanding 2-0 series lead in the 2024 NBA Finals.

After a dominant Game 1, the C’s took Game 2 in more of a grind-it-out win in front of the TD Garden crowd. They trailed the Mavericks throughout the first quarter and took a slim three-point lead into the half, but Dallas couldn’t keep up over the final two frames.

Boston jumped out to a 13-point lead late in the third quarter and held on late for a 105-98 victory that brings them just two wins away from Banner 18. In league history, teams that have won the first two games of the NBA Finals at home have gone on to win the series 84.4 percent of the time (27-5).

Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 26 and 21 points, respectively. Jayson Tatum and Derrick White added 18 each, and Kristaps Porzingis chipped in 12 in 23 minutes off the bench.

Luka Doncic had a game-high 32 points in what otherwise was a rough night for Dallas’ offense. Kyrie Irving had another night to forget with 16 points on just 7-of-18 shooting.

Game 3 is set for 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday at American Airlines Center. Before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Boston’s Game 2 win.

Happy Holidays

Jrue Holiday showed in Game 2 that the Celtics’ supporting cast advantage could ultimately be the difference-maker in this series.

While the non-Doncic Mavericks struggled, Holiday picked up some of the Celtics’ slack on offense with a team-high 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting. He was unstoppable in the paint and 2-for-4 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Holiday also notched 11 rebounds, a steal, and a block in what marked another stellar two-way performance for the perennial All-Defensive selection. He and Derrick White’s defense is a big reason the C’s have been able to keep Irving in check through the first two games of this series.

When Holiday is feeling it offensively, good things happen for Boston. The C’s are now 23-1 when Holiday had 14 or more points.

Jayson Tatum: The facilitator

It wasn’t pretty early on Sunday’s game for the Celtics’ superstar. Tatum started 0-for-4 from the floor and ended the first half with just five points on 2-of-10 shooting, including 0-for-3 from deep.

When the shots weren’t falling, Tatum stepped up as a playmaker. His eight first-half assists tied his playoff career-high for any half and matched the Mavericks’ team total through the first two frames.

Tatum finished with 18 points on 6-of-22 shooting (1-7 3-PT), making him just 12-for-38 from the floor in the series. Those certainly aren’t ideal numbers, but he’s first-team All-NBA because of his ability to impact the game in several ways. He nearly notched a triple-double with 12 assists and nine rebounds.

Holiday was among the benefactors of Tatum’s playmaking, and he expressed his gratitude for his teammate during his postgame interview:

Another defensive masterclass

NBA veteran Danny Green stirred up the Celtics fanbase by stating Boston’s stellar defensive performance in Game 1 was “unsustainable.” Well, it at least was sustained throughout Sunday’s showdown.

The Non-Doncic Mavs were limited to just 2-of-17 from 3-point range. Irving was just 7-for-18 from the floor and 0-for-3 from deep, making him 13-of-37 on field goals (35.1 percent) and 0-for-8 from 3 through the first two games in the series.

Boston’s defensive effort was the reason it overcame its own struggles (10-39, 25.6 percent) from beyond the 3-point line. Before Sunday, the C’s were 11-13 when their opponent made more 3-pointers.

Fittingly, the game was iced on a clutch block by Derrick White. Dallas could have cut the lead to two with under a minute to go, but White sent P.J. Washington packing.

If the Celtics’ defense can sustain anything close to this level of play, this could be a quick series.



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