Celtics overcome Mavericks, extend NBA Finals lead

Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday takes a shot over Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA Finals basketball series, Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Boston Celtics secured a 105-98 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, extending their lead to 2-0 in the NBA Finals. Jrue Holiday led the Celtics with 26 points, playing a crucial role in thwarting a late-game rally by the Mavericks.

Despite early difficulties with three-point shooting, the Celtics showcased a strong all-around performance.

Jaylen Brown contributed 21 points, while Jayson Tatum added 18 points, nine rebounds, and 12 assists.

Tatum’s playmaking was particularly praised by Holiday.

“They were double-teaming him and he was making the right play,” Holiday said. “The way that he led us, getting into the paint, making plays, finding me wide open — it was all about him.”

The Mavericks faced challenges with injuries, notably star player Luka Doncic, who played through a chest contusion, a right knee sprain, and a sore left ankle.

Despite these setbacks, Doncic delivered a triple-double with 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. However, he acknowledged his turnovers and missed free throws as critical issues.

“I think my turnovers and my missed free-throws cost us the game, so I’ve got to do way better in those two categories,” Doncic said.

P.J. Washington added 17 points for Dallas, and Kyrie Irving scored 16, though he struggled with his shooting, missing all three of his three-point attempts.

The Mavericks made only 16 of their 24 free throws, while the Celtics converted 19 of 20 from the line.

Boston’s Derrick White delivered a crucial block on Washington in the final moments, followed by a layup from Brown, sealing the game.

The Celtics now head to Dallas for Game 3 with a commanding lead, remaining unbeaten on the road this postseason.

Celtics veteran Al Horford expressed pride in the team’s resilience.

“We understood that we had to protect home court. We knew they were going to come out and be more aggressive. We were able to withstand their runs and protect home,” he said.

The Celtics did face a scare with an apparent leg injury to center Kristaps Porzingis, who left the game in the fourth quarter.

However, coach Joe Mazzulla downplayed the severity of the injury, stating he had “zero” concern about a serious setback.

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