Boston Celtics

Jason Kidd calls out Celtics' mindset after Mavs' Game 4 blowout win

"They let go of the rope pretty early."

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The Dallas Mavericks aren't done in the 2024 NBA Finals, and head coach Jason Kidd isn't done instigating the Boston Celtics.

Facing elimination and a series sweep Friday night at American Airlines Center, Dallas rallied to deliver a 122-84 rout of Boston in Game 4. The Mavs stifled the Celtics' offense, limiting them to the worst shooting percentage ever in an NBA Finals game (36.3 percent) en route to the third-largest blowout in Finals history.

So, was this result a matter of Dallas stepping up, or Boston simply not showing up? Kidd believes the answer is both.

"It's real simple. We don't have to complicate this. This isn't surgery," Kidd said in his postgame press conference. "Our group was ready to go. They were ready to celebrate."

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That's a direct shot at the Celtics' mindset entering a potential closeout game, but it's also an accurate statement. The C's were never really in this game, trailing by 13 after the first quarter while playing uncharacteristically sloppy basketball on both ends.

"Understand, we made a stand," Kidd added. "We were desperate. We've got to continue to keep playing that way; understand they're trying to find a way to close the door.

"The hardest thing in this league is to close the door when you have a group that has nothing to lose. Tonight you saw that. They let go of the rope pretty early."

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla and veteran big man Al Horford both admitted the Mavs played with more effort, in addition to executing at a much higher level: Dallas made 52.3 percent of its shots and dominated nearly every part of the box score, from rebounding (52-31) to second-chance points (16-2) to points in the paint (60-26).

That's a recipe for a blowout loss. But while it's frustrating that the Celtics "let go of the rope" on the game's biggest stage, they've typically responded well to similar duds: They're 2-0 following losses this postseason, with a 20-point victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the first round and a 13-point win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of Round 2.

And if the franchise's Finals history is any indication, Mazzulla's club is primed for a big response Monday night in Game 5 at TD Garden.

"Not sure it changes much," Celtics guard Jrue Holiday said of the Celtics' mindset after Friday's loss. "(We've) got to get home, get our rest, hydrate and lock back in.

" ... I think the series is we are up 3-1 going back to Boston."

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