Boston Celtics

Celtics took advantage of Doncic's lackluster defense in Game 1 win

The Celtics exploited this matchup in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

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The Boston Celtics rarely have anyone on the floor who opposing teams can attack at will on offense and score points against in bunches.

Boston has a versatile roster full of players capable of defending multiple positions and switching any pick-and-roll.

The Dallas Mavericks don't have that luxury, and it was evident in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals on Thursday night.

The Celtics earned a 107-89 victory at TD Garden, and one matchup they successfully exploited throughout the game was attacking Mavs superstar Luka Doncic on the offensive end of the floor. There was nowhere for Doncic to hide because the Celtics almost always have five players on the floor who can shoot from the outside.

Doncic is not the most athletic player when fully healthy, and he's been battling a knee injury throughout the playoffs. The Celtics took advantage of this situation right from the start of Thursday's matchup. They scored 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting when Doncic was the primary defender.

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown was especially productive versus Doncic, scoring six points on 3-of-3 shooting. One of those shots was a thunderous dunk in traffic, which was made possible because Doncic couldn't contain Brown on the perimeter.

Brown torched Doncic in the regular season and continued that success in Game 1, but he wasn't the only player who scored against the Mavericks star.

Doncic ended up scoring 30 points, but he wasn't very efficient. He shot 12-of-26 from the field with only one assist and a team-high four turnovers. Add in his poor defense and it wasn't a very good performance from the superstar guard.

It's only one game, and we've seen Doncic bounce back from lackluster outings many times in his playoff career. But it's not like he's going to become a vastly better defensive player overnight, especially when he's dealing with a knee injury.

The Celtics must continue to continue to attack Doncic and make him expend energy defensively the rest of the series.

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