The Boston Celtics drew first blood in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. They handily won, 107-89, to keep their winning ways that has spanned all year. After a league-best 64-18 record in the regular season, they are now 13-2 in the playoffs.

It was a standard back-and-forth during the first few minutes of the game as the score was 15-14 in favor of the Mavericks at the 6:20 mark of the first quarter. Unfortunately for Dallas, it was when Boston revved up and blazed in the next quarter and a half. Through fast-paced, inside-out offense, both filled with paint, midrange, and three-point action, the score blew to 58-29 with 4:11 still left before the break. That’s a +30 (44-14) scoring run across just 14 minutes of gametime.

True to their identity as an elite two-way squad, the men in green simply pulled out their strengths from a variety of choices. Among that is the return of their starting big man, Kristaps Porzingis, who last played in the first round vs. the Miami Heat last April 30th (Manila time). The 28-year-old came off-the-bench and immediately showcased how he missed being out there on the floor. He finished with 11 points and three blocks on 4-of-5 shooting at the end of the opening frame.

Such is a big boost for a Celtic team who’s already hyped anyway, so it allowed a massive jump early in the contest, which then allowed a more lax and controlled pace. Porzingis’ inspiring opening salvo was enough, so his nine points throughout the next three quarters were just an added bonus. 

Seeing how comfortable and loose he is, we may be bound to get more of the same moving forward. It’s an interesting wait as to how much rhythm and momentum he can carry over for the next game.

Newly-crowned Eastern Conference Finals MVP Jaylen Brown was solid as well. He picked his spots well to allow himself an efficient shooting night, and sprinkled it with nice, all-around defense. With all that, he posted a complete line: 22 points, six rebounds, two assists, three steals, and three blocks on 7-of-12 shooting. While there’s concern on going just 6-of-11 from the charity stripe, he’s luckily saved this time.

Porzingis and Brown’s stellar play also blended with an all-around attack from the rest, both on offense and defense. The Celtics had six guys in double figures (including all five starters) and collectively went 16-of-42 from beyond the arc, all while playing sticky defense on the Mavs. Their defense allowed 30 points for Luka Doncic, but held Kyrie Irving to just 12 points on 6-of-19 shooting (0/5 from three), and the Mavs to a 25.9% clip from three and 41.7% overall.

The one hole for the Celtics in Game 1 is their main star, Jayson Tatum, who was mostly quiet and tallied just 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting and six turnovers, though he did make up for it on other areas by grabbing 11 boards and dishing out five assists. We’ll see if he can redeem himself in Game 2 this Monday. In the end, it’s scary to think that they dominated when he didn’t play like his usual self.