Everything you need to know about the 2024 NBA Finals

June 6, 2024
After one dominant Eastern Conference (EC) Finals sweep and a tight five-game Western Conference (WC) Finals, the NBA Finals — featuring the Boston Celtics vs. the Dallas Mavericks — have finally arrived.
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Everything you need to know about the 2024 NBA Finals
Source: CBS

🛣️ The road to the NBA Finals

Nearly seven weeks and 14 eliminated playoff teams later, just two squads remain in contention for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The EC No. 1 Boston Celtics cruised to the Finals by topping the No. 8 Miami Heat and No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers in five games before sweeping the No. 6 Indiana Pacers in the conference finals. As it was written.

  • Over in the WC, the No. 5 Dallas Mavericks are Finals bound for the first time since 2011 after knocking out the No. 4 LA Clippers in the first round, No. 1 Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semis, and finally the No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves in the WC Finals.

👊 The matchup

Everything you need to know about the 2024 NBA Finals
Source: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Mavs and the Cs only met twice this regular season, with Boston coming out on top both times, 119–110 in January and 138–110 in March. That second matchup came shortly after the February trade deadline, where Dallas made major mid-season moves, adding emerging playoff stars P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford.

  • Though the regular season results are lopsided, both squads boast seriously tough defenses and some of the best shot-makers in the league. TL;DR? This is going to be good.

☘️ Boston Celtics

Everything you need to know about the 2024 NBA Finals
Source: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Top storylines: The Celtics are back in the Finals for the second time in three years, looking to snap their 16-year title drought and finally win their elusive would-be league-leading 18th championship. Boston battled against injury-hampered team after injury-hampered team in the playoffs, making this Finals series their most difficult postseason test by far.

  • Meanwhile, Boston head coach (HC) Joe Mazzulla has already made history as the youngest HC to reach the Finals since player-coach (and NBA legend) Bill Russell did it with the Cs back in 1969. Decent company.

Players to watch: Always the bridesmaids, never the bride, Jayson Tatum and his partner-in-hoops Jaylen Brown are still fighting for their first ’ship after headlining the league’s best offense all season. Tatum’s “humbly” one of the league’s brightest stars, but it’s Brown who ascended to new heights in the postseason, averaging 25 points per game and coming up clutch in big moments.

Keys to success: Shutting down the Mavs’ impressive shotmakers, a tall task even for one of the best defenses in the league. It’ll be up to Derrick White and offseason acquisitions Jrue Holiday and former Mav Kristaps Porziņģis, who’s expected to make his first playoff appearance since April 29th in Game 1 after rehabbing a calf injury, to hold it down on the defensive end.

  • And on offense, it wouldn’t hurt for superstar Jayson Tatum to find his rhythm early — the team’s leading scorer and rebounder in the regular season has been noticeably quiet at the start of postseason games. Have to meet the moment.

🐴 Dallas Mavericks

Everything you need to know about the 2024 NBA Finals
Source: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Top storylines: Unlike the storied Celtics, the Mavs are fighting for just their second franchise championship and first since 2011, when then-player and now-HC Jason Kidd was on the squad. Dallas’ postseason climb to the Finals was considerably steeper than Boston’s — they upset three higher-seeded teams to reach the promised land.

  • How’d they do it? Two words: Luka Donċić. The 25-year-old WC Finals MVP was a league MVP finalist this year and won the league’s scoring title. Now he’s four wins away from adding a championship to his nascent career.

Players to watch: Dončić’s used to being a one-man show and already has six triple-doubles this postseason, but he’s finally found his lieutenant in Irving, an unbelievable ball handler who thrives as the second-best player on his team — like when he won the 2016 title with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

  • Beyond this dynamic duo, emerging playoff star, the aforementioned Washington, who’s more than doubled his regular-season point totals in the postseason. What, like it’s hard?

Keys to success: First of all, Dončić’s health. Though the Irving-Dončić duo has been virtually unstoppable, the Slovenian superstar is notably struggling with a sprained right knee and, despite moments of brilliance, his playoff production is actually down from his regular-season highs.

  • But his teammates have stepped up in response, with Washington emerging as a force on offense, while Gafford and rookie Dereck Lively II anchor the Mavs’ strong defense.
  • This series is star-studded, but, if the Mavs walk away with the trophy, it will be because of their Oscar-worthy supporting cast. Applause, applause.

📺 How to tune in

Everything you need to know about the 2024 NBA Finals
Source: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

It all comes down to this — the Finals showdown begins with Game 1 in Boston tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET, airing on ABC in the U.S. and TSN 4/5 in Canada. Don’t miss a minute.