Even if they are heading home for Games 3 and 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks feel lost.

Luka Doncic has been playing at an elite level. The Mavs have also been getting to the free throw line as much or even more than the Boston Celtics. Rebounding and fouls have been more or less even for both teams. And yet the Celtics have found a way to win each game. So what gives?

For one, it seems Boston has had various players stepping up aside from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who has been able to contribute in other ways aside from scoring. In Game 1, it was the returning Kristaps Porzingis, who played his best revenge game against his former team (maybe he didn’t mean to but hey, it worked).

For Game 2, it was Jrue Holiday, who the Celtics brought in for his defensive prowess and how it would relieve pressure off Brown and Tatum. Instead, it was the offensive pressure that was relieved and it worked out just fine.

Dallas certainly didn’t do themselves any favors when they didn’t make the most out of the chances given to them. While the Mavs have been able to get to the line, converting them is another story. Through two games, Dallas’ free throw shooting has been hovering in the 60s, and the missed free throws throughout Game 2 gave the Celtics some relief as they navigated through their shooting woes.

Offensively, it feels as if Doncic is on an island, as his teammates tend to get their points when momentum has clearly moved towards Boston. The spotlight has clearly been on Kyrie Irving, who has heard the boos and has played as if it all affected him greatly. His offensive stat lines are pretty much in line with that of Tatum’s but the problem is that Irving’s cold spell sticks out like a sore thumb because the Mavericks don’t have the depth to cover for his bad nights.

Can the Mavs turn things around as the series shifts to Dallas? Absolutely, and it all begins when the shots fall. With the Celtics being able to go 1-on-1 on most defensive matchups, ball movement has been tough for the Mavs, but if the offense can sustain an early start, the looks on defense can change and Dallas can pounce on this.

That being said, you can’t count out the Dallas Mavericks. They’ve had one of the better defenses and they have shown they can stay toe-to-toe with the Boston Celtics on offense, until it becomes a war of attrition. The Mavs need a spark in Game 3 and if they find that in time, then history shows that they’re in for a good ending.