To say that the NBA Finals have been brutal for the Dallas Mavericks may be an understatement.

Take away their Game 4 win and the Mavs were outclassed on both ends of the floor. The Boston Celtics took advantage of the matchups presented in the series and came up with a great game plan to stymie Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Dallas only scored more than 100 points in Game 4 and time and time again, they were beaten to every loose ball and rebound despite having a younger, healthier, and more athletic frontcourt than the Celtics.

Much of that was on display in Game 5, where Boston was ahead from the start and held a lead that grew to as large as 26 points in the third quarter. The Mavs tried to mount a comeback, but a critical Celtics offensive rebound or a Boston defensive stop prevented Dallas from getting anything going.

Losing in the NBA Finals certainly stings. We’ve seen it before with the likes of the late Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, who went through their own brutal Celtics beatdown before getting back at them in the 2010 NBA Finals. The same goes for the San Antonio Spurs, who were seconds away from a championship in 2013 but came back the following season to breeze past LeBron James and the Miami Heat. In fact, the late Jerry West lost eight NBA Finals before winning on his ninth attempt.


There’s a lot of material to assure Doncic and the Mavs that while the journey to the NBA Finals is a difficult one, it can be done. They can think of all the strategies in the world, but at this point, rest may be best.

Doncic has been playing nonstop since the 2023 NBA Playoffs and the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup and he, Dwight Powell, Josh Green, and Dante Exum will most likely play in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Part of what worked for Boston, though, was that none of their players participated in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. However, national pride matters to these players especially in what is arguably the biggest stage of international basketball.

Many will pore over the numbers and what might have been, but Dallas will need to assess how they fare with the intangibles in basketball. Much has been said about Doncic’s complaints over the foul calls (or lack thereof), but the bigger issue would be how he would need to make adjustments in terms of leadership. He’ll definitely talk and guide his teammates on the court, but his body language and how he responds to adversity are things his peers will also pick up on. If Irving has been lauded for his maturity this season, then perhaps Doncic can take a page out of his partner’s book.

This season was by all means not a failure for the Dallas Mavericks. Making the NBA Finals is something 28 other teams could have only dreamt of and they did so against teams favored to beat them. Losing the title to the Boston Celtics was a bitter pill to swallow, but tough times like this will make the future victories much sweeter.