The Dallas Mavericks went through a gauntlet of elite teams to get to the NBA Finals, but they quickly learned in Game 1 that the Boston Celtics are on another level. Despite a valiant third quarter rally that brought them within eight points, the Mavericks fell to the Celtics, 107-89, to fall behind 1-0 in this series.

Boston was locked in from the opening tip and a flurry of three-pointers allowed them to take a 17-point lead by the end of the first quarter. Their advantage ballooned to a high of 29 points during the second period as ex-Dallas center Kristaps Porzingis came off the bench to score 18 of his 20 points in the first half.

The 7’2 Porzingis, who played for the first time since suffering a calf strain in the first round of this postseason against the Miami Heat, was a match-up nightmare for the Mavericks. He made it a point to punish smaller defenders such as Josh Green and Derrick Jones Jr. whenever they switched on to him and the threat of his three-point shooting opened up the floor for the Celtics.

Dallas actually did a decent job in containing the rest of Boston’s line-up, particularly Jayson Tatum who shot just six-of-16 from the field. This makes it imperative for the Mavericks to find a way to contain Porzingis if they are to make this a competitive series as his combination of height and shooting poses the biggest mismatch for them.

On the offensive end, Luka Doncic managed to score 30 points although he needed 26 shots to get there and made only two-of-five of his free throws during the match. However, Doncic’s most shocking statistic from Game 1 was his one assist which is well-below his postseason average of 8.8 per game.

The Celtics made it a point to maintain single-coverage on Doncic with Jaylen Brown serving as the primary defender and this paid off handsomely for them. The lack of help defense made it difficult for Doncic to find passing opportunities which caused Dallas’ offense to stagnate.

What further compounded the misery of the Mavericks was that Kyrie Irving had an even worse night as he managed to score only 12 points on six-of-19 field goal shooting. Irving was hounded relentlessly by Boston’s Jrue Holiday throughout Game 1 and he will need to find a way to get going if Dallas is to make this a series.

With Doncic and Irving clamped down by the Celtics’ menacing defense, the Mavericks will need at least one of their supporting players to step up to give them a chance in these NBA Finals. P.J. Washington has the ability to be this player for the Mavericks, though he had a pedestrian performance in Game 1 with 14 points on five-of-11 shooting. He must come out more aggressive in Game 2 for Dallas as they sorely need another offensive threat who can make things more difficult for Boston’s defense.

While the final score and the bloated leads reinforced the Celtics’ place as the favorites in this series, the run that the Mavericks went on early in the third quarter that brought them within eight points was quite encouraging. Dallas might not have the overall firepower to outgun Boston, but if they can find a way to keep things close up until the fourth quarter, then it should put them in a prime position to win the game as Doncic and Irving are the two best closers in this series.

All is not lost for the Mavericks and with the experience that they have gained from the opener, Game 2 should be a completely different story for Doncic, Irving, and company.