MNO Sports >Football World >Starting 5, June 7: Kristaps Porzingis’ return sparks Boston's Game 1 win

Starting 5, June 7: Kristaps Porzingis’ return sparks Boston's Game 1 win

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Starting 5KP’s back. And the Celtics are up 1-0.


THE LINEUP 🏀

What’s inside today’s edition?

Porzingis’ return: KP returned from a 38-day absence to fuel Boston’s Game 1 win

Brown does it all: Jaylen Brown turned in a brilliant two-way performance for the hosts

Celtics’ defense: How Boston held Dallas to a Playoff-low 89 points

Game 1 notes: Luka’s debut, Walton tributes, three key runs and broadcasting history

All-Access: Our on-the-ground correspondents take you behind the scenes of Game 1


BUT FIRST … ⏰

Game 1 result and the remaining Finals schedule …

🏆 The Finals resume Sunday (8 ET, ABC). Stay tapped in on the NBA App for the latest news, analysis and access on the ground in Boston.


1. PORZINGIS: A RETURN TO REMEMBER

Kristaps Porzingis recorded 20 points (8-13 FG) and six rebounds for the Celtics.

Welcome Back: TD Garden roared when Kristaps Porzingis emerged from the tunnel for pregame warmups. They erupted when he checked into the game. And he returned the favor with a first-half masterclass.

Porzingis hadn’t played in 38 days since suffering a calf strain on April 29.

Last night, he made up for lost time by becoming just the fourth non-starter to score 20+ points in his NBA Finals debut – initiating a Celtics avalanche that fueled a 107-89 win. | Recap

7:17 In 1st Quarter: Porzingis checked into the game for the first time with the Celtics holding a 12-11 leadEnd Of 1st Quarter: The Celtics’ 37-20 lead was the largest advantage (+17) at the end of a 1st quarter in Game 1 of a Finals in the play-by-play era (since 1997-98)In that stretch, Porzingis had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, one 3, three rebounds and two blocks, capped by a key rejection to close out the quarterHe’s the first player with 10+ points and two blocks off the bench in a quarter of a Finals game since 1998🗣️ Porzingis: “Hearing the fans go nuts when I came out the tunnel gave me goosebumps.”

Making History: Porzingis is the first player to score 15+ points in an NBA Finals game after not having played in a game in 30+ days.

And he did it in just two quarters.

The seven-footer entered intermission with 18 points on 7-9 shooting, including two triples, and the Celtics went on a 44-14 run between the 1st and 2nd quarters to seize a 29-point lead with 4:11 remaining in the half.

Porzingis is the 9th player since 1976-77 to drop 18+ points in the first half of their Finals debut🗣️ Jayson Tatum On Porzingis: “The big fella was amazing … the way he jumpstarted that first half for us.”

After a 38-day layoff due to injury, Kristaps Porzingis rocks the Mavericks for 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in 21 minutes.

All-Around Impact: Porzingis – who had missed 10 straight games before Thursday – finished the night with 20 points, six boards and three blocks, along with a game-high 85.0 defensive rating (min. 20 minutes) to help hold Dallas to a Playoff-low 89 points and give Boston a 1-0 series lead.

🗣️ Al Horford: “His energy was unbelievable … on offense, on defense, [the] chasedown block in transition … his energy just got us going and took us to another level.”🗣️ Coach Joe Mazzulla: “It doesn’t matter how long he takes off, the guy is going to make plays because of how talented he is and the work he puts in. What he did for us tonight was big.”🗣️ Tatum: “We’re a great team when guys are down but we’re really, really special when we have everybody … that was a big spark for us to start the game.”

2. JAYLEN BROWN DOES IT ALL IN GAME 1

Jaylen Brown watched Boston’s 2022 Finals loss to Golden State four or five times, trying to learn from it as he got a second chance on the Finals stage.

🗣️ Brown: “Just being able to watch those moments and learn from them, how to manage your emotions, like, what you would have did differently, potentially.”

In his first opportunity to show what he would do differently, Brown put together an elite two-way performance – 22 points, six boards, three steals and three blocks – to help Boston take Game 1.

Party of 3: Brown joined Tim Duncan (2003) and Scottie Pippen (1996 and 1997) as the only players since 1973-74 (when blocks and steals became official stats) to put up 20+ pts, 3+ stl and 3+ blocks in Game 1 of the Finals🗣️ Mazzulla: “What you saw tonight is kind of the challenge he took for himself coming into the year. Not wanting to be defined by one thing. Wanting to make plays. Wanted to be a well-rounded player and get better and better. So his spacing, his ball movement, his defense on ball and off ball.”

Whether he was picking Luka Doncic’s pocket as he brought the ball up and immediately converting the turnover into a dunk, or protecting the basket with three blocks at or above the rim in the span of 94 seconds, Brown’s defensive fingerprints are all over this win.

🗣️ Brown On His Rejection On Kyrie: “Defense is what we got to hang our hat on”🗣️ Jayson Tatum on Brown: “JB’s somebody that has really worked on his craft year after year… it’s special to see when guys put in the work and it translates to on the court“

In addition to his defense, Brown scored a team-high 22 points (7-of-12 FG) and constantly put pressure on the Dallas defense with drives to the basket, timely 3s and a game-high 11 free throw attempts.

When told he was the first player in Boston’s Finals history to have 20+ points, 3+ blocks and 3+ steals in a game, Brown no longer wanted to look back, but look ahead.🗣️ Brown: “It means nothing. You just get ready for the next one.”

3. BOSTON’S DEFENSE STIFLES MAVS

In their 17-game run to reach the NBA Finals, the Mavs scored at least 25 points 49 times in 68 quarters.

In Game 1, the Mavs never scored 25 in a quarter as the Celtics held them to a Playoff-low 89 points, dropping Dallas to 1-11 (regular season and Playoffs combined) when held under 100 points.

How did the Celtics do it? By taking away the shots that got the Mavs to this stage.

Corner 3s: Dallas entered the Finals averaging 4.6 made corner 3s on 11.6 attempts per game. In Game 1, the Mavs made just one corner 3 on three attemptsAlley-Oops: The Mavs entered the Finals averaging 3.6 completed lob passes per game. In Game 1, the Mavs finished with zero, with the Celtics in position to break up multiple attempts

The Celtics not only subject the Mavericks to a 3-point barrage in Game 1, they limit Dallas to a pair of corner 3s, both misses.

The alley-oop and the corner 3 are two of the highest-efficient shots in the game – Dallas shoots 39.3% from the corners this postseason (compared to 35.7% above the break) and converts 85.1% of their lobs.

By taking away their easy looks, the Celtics forced the Mavs into their lowest true shooting percentage (48.2%) of any game this postseason and sixth lowest of the entire seasonDallas finished with a season-low nine assists – well below their Playoff average of 22.4 per game – with Luka having a season-low one assist and only two from Kyrie Irving after the duo averaged 14 combined before Game 1🗣️ Mazzulla: “Just great individual defense. Everybody has to take on the challenge of guarding those guys. They’re an amazing team and they put a ton of pressure on you with their ability to score.”

The Mavs only dish out 9 assists on 35 baskets in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals. What can they do to get the Celtics on the move?

Boston Block Party: During the regular season, Boston ranked first in blocks (6.6 bpg) and rim protection (60.6% allowed). Those numbers and rankings dropped in the Playoffs as Boston entered the Finals fifth in blocks (5.4 bpg) and ninth in rim protection (64.5%).

In addition to getting KP back – who finished with three blocks (two to end the 1st quarter) – the Cs got three from Brown, two from Al Horford and one from Tatum for a total of nine blocks, compared to just one for Dallas

4. GAME 1 NOTES: LUKA’S FINALS DEBUT

Luka Magic: Doncic needed only 75 seconds to score his first bucket in his NBA Finals debut. He added 11 more buckets to finish with a game-high 30 points with 10 rebounds in Dallas’ Game 1 loss.

Luka is the first player to post a 30-point double-double in their Finals debut since Tim Duncan (33 pts, 16 reb) in 1999

JB & KP Show: Jaylen Brown (22) and Kristaps Porzingis (20) combined for 42 points as Boston improved to 13-3 this season when they each score 20+ in the same game.

🗣️ Brown On Porzingis’ Return: “It was amazing. Nobody’s more proud or more excited for him than I am.”

Walton Tributes: The Celtics took the court in warmup shirts with WALTON across their chest in his signature tie-dye and wore a black ‘Walton’ stripe on their jerseys. Prior to the game, Boston played a video tribute to the former Celtic.

Prior to Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals in Boston, the Celtics honor one of their own, NBA legend Bill Walton, who died May 28.

Game Of Runs: Game 1 saw both teams go on massive runs to change the tide of the game.

Boston 44-14: After Dallas led 15-14, Boston went on a 44-14 run to build its biggest lead at 29 points with 4:11 left in the halfDallas 35-14: Dallas answered with a 35-14 run – including a 22-9 burst to open the 3rd quarter – to make it an eight-point game with 4:28 left in the 3rdBoston 14-2: The Celtics responded with a 14-2 run to close the 3rd and push their lead back to 20🗣️ Brown: “That’s the game. When a team goes on a run, you got to manage it, you got to stay composed, and you got to keep playing basketball. It’s almost like you just have short-term memory a little bit, like the team’s not even on a run.”

3-Point Disparity: Boston outscored Dallas by 27 points from the 3-point line, knocking down 16 (on 38.1% shooting) compared to seven (on 25.9% shooting) for the Mavs.

3s For Everybody: Seven Celtics hit at least two 3s in Game 1 – the most players by a team to hit multiple 3s in a Finals game

Broadcasting History: Doris Burke became the first woman to call a major men’s professional championship event, providing analysis alongside JJ Redick and Mike Breen on the ABC telecast.

Doris discussed the moment pregame and got a shout out from LeBron James on the accomplishment during the game@KingJames: “Important moment for our sport tonight. Love and respect to DB and everything she does to elevate all of us! You’re a 🐐! 🙏🏾🤎🫡”

5. ALL-ACCESS PASS TO GAME 1

Experience the Finals like never before.

The stars showed out for Game 1 in Boston, and Finals Correspondents Jabari Smith Jr. of the Houston Rockets and Content Creator Tristan Jass took us behind the scenes to capture all the festivities, along with our NBA on-site access team.

Best Moments

Luka & Tatum Mic’d Up: Feel the intensity of Game 1 from stars on both sidesRed Panda Putting On A Show: Need we say more?Game Ball Call: Kyrie and Jaylen choose the game ball ahead of tipoffJabari Smith In Awe: “I can’t imagine how much adrenaline they got, butterflies and everything … it’s crazy.”Smith & Horford: Jabari Smith’s exclusive chat with Al Horford postgameEagles Taking It In: Eagles wide receivers DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown on the floor pregameTerrell Owens: “You can just tell, this is championship basketball right here.”Porzingis Postgame: Kristaps reflects on Boston’s Game 1 dub🗣️ TJass On The Best Thing From Game 1: “The Jaylen Brown posterizing dunk. It was absolutely insane … I couldn’t even hear myself think it was so loud in the arena.”

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