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NBA Playoffs: Do the Mavericks Have More Fight in Them?

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Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics

The Mavericks find themselves down 0-2 against the Celtics after the first two games of the 2024 NBA Finals, so they are under immense pressure when they head back home to the American Airlines Center for Games 3 and 4.

If Dallas lose Game 3 on Thursday, they will fall into a 0-3 hole, which no NBA team has ever successfully come back from.

Beating the Celtics is such a tall task for the Mavericks, even if they’ll be playing at home, because the Joe Mazzulla-coached squad has been one of the best road teams this season.


Talking Points

Doncic can’t do it all alone for the Mavericks

The Mavericks are in a precarious position in the NBA Finals because they have been a one-man team compared to the Celtics.

Luka Doncic continues to put up NBA 2024 highlights, particularly on the offencive end, as he is averaging 31.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game, but his defence leaves a lot to be desired.

His co-star Kyrie Irving is struggling, as the one-time NBA champion is averaging only 14.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 4.0 assists on a woeful 35.1-per cent shooting from the field and has yet to make a three-point shot.

Compared to the Timberwolves, the Celtics are a much better defencive team, as they have the requisite defenders to slow down the Mavericks. Their gameplan is to make both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving work hard for their shots, even if it means leaving the others open at times.

The only way to ruin Boston’s strategy is for the supporting cast to play out of their minds. PJ Washington, Daniel Gafford, Derrick Jones Jr., and Dereck Lively II have to make the most of their opportunities.


Tatum yet to explode for the Celtics

The Boston Celtics are ready to defeat the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of the NBA Finals
Celtics’ Jayson Tatum against Mavericks’ Luka Doncic in Game 2 of the NBA Finals

For some reason, the Celtics are 6-0 when Jayson Tatum shoots below 40-per cent from the field this postseason. This would’ve been the other way around in the years past.

However, the five-time NBA All-Star remains on the Finals MVP ladder despite his subpar offence because of his impact on other categories. With the Mavericks hell-bent on stopping Tatum from scoring, he has embraced the role of being the point forward for the Celtics.

Despite shooting 6-of-22 from the field in Game 2, Jayson Tatum still managed to record 18 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds. In the Finals, he is averaging 17.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game on 31.6-per cent shooting.

It’s a good thing for Boston that Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown have picked up the scoring. Brown is the Celtics’ leading scorer, averaging 21.5 points per game, while Holiday is right behind him with 19.0 points per game.

Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis has been the biggest trump card for Boston, as shown in Game 1. He hurt his leg late in Game 2, but he reassured Celtics fans that he’d play in the next few games.


History

Only five teams in NBA history have made a successful comeback in the NBA Finals after dropping the first two games, and the Mavericks are hoping to be the sixth team to do so.

The most recent team that has done this is the 2021 Bucks, of which Jrue Holiday is a part, as they defeated the Suns by winning four consecutive games after facing such a deficit.

Before that, the 2016 Cavaliers, 2006 Heat, 1977 Blazers, and 1969 Celtics also did it.

By scoring 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in Game 2, Luka Doncic recorded his 10th career playoff triple-double, currently one shy of Jason Kidd, his current head coach. The Slovenian superstar is also the youngest player in NBA history with a 30-point triple-double in the NBA Finals.


What are the odds?

If there’s one game for the Mavericks to win, then it is Game 3, based on the latest SBOTOP NBA 2024 odds. Compared to Games 1 and 2, there’s a little bit of hope for Dallas on Thursday because they’re priced at 1.77 odds, while Boston are at 2.12.

Just like in Game 2, expect Game 3 to be another close game, with the hosts being favoured in the Asian Handicap market at -2.00 at 1.94.

Luka Doncic is likely to have another huge scoring night, as he’ll put the Mavs on his back once more, so Over 32.50 at 1.82 is a good alternative bet.

However, if this turns out to be another low-scoring game, such as Under 212.00 at 2.02, then the Celtics are likely to go up 3-0 in this series.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.


 

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