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NBA Finals: Porzingis shines as Celtics take 1-0 lead over Mavericks

Kristaps Porzingis made a stellar return from injury, propelling the Boston Celtics to a 107-89 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

After missing 10 games with a right calf strain, Porzingis quickly made his presence felt in front of an energized home crowd.

The Celtics established a commanding 29-point lead in the first half and resisted the Mavericks’ third-quarter rally to secure the initial advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Coming off the bench against his former team, Porzingis scored 11 points, grabbed three rebounds, and made two crucial blocks in the first quarter, helping Boston jump to a 37-20 lead. Following eight lead changes in just over six minutes, the Celtics surged ahead with seven three-pointers in the first quarter, maintaining a relentless pace as the Mavericks struggled offensively.

Boston made 16 three-pointers on 42 attempts. Jaylen Brown led six Celtics in double figures with 22 points, contributing three of the team’s nine blocks and three of their six steals. Porzingis finished with 20 points, while Jayson Tatum added 16 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists.

Dallas star Luka Doncic scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds but managed just one assist. Kyrie Irving was limited to 12 points on six-of-19 shooting. Despite cutting the deficit to eight in the third quarter, the Mavericks couldn’t maintain the momentum.

“Defensively, we made some big-time plays,” Brown said. “When they cut it to eight, that’s when the game started. I liked how our team responded. We stayed composed and pushed the lead back out.”

Boston extended their lead to 29 points in the second quarter with a 14-4 run, highlighted by Tatum’s three-pointer and Brown’s steal and dunk.

Dallas made a push in the third quarter, cutting the lead to 72-64 with 4:28 left, but Boston answered with a 14-0 run, including a Porzingis dunk and key blocks by Brown. Three-pointers from Tatum, Al Horford, and Brown extended the lead to 86-66 entering the fourth quarter.

“When a team goes on a run, you’ve got to manage it, stay composed, and keep playing basketball,” Brown said. “It’s almost like you need short-term memory.”

Doncic, battling a right knee injury and a sore left ankle, struggled with his shooting but recognized the moments when Dallas played well. “We were getting stops, not allowing offensive rebounds, and having fun out there,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to do more.”

Porzingis’s return and the Celtics’ strong performance set the tone for the series. Boston will aim to double their advantage in Game 2 on Sunday. Doncic emphasized the need to defend the three-point line better. “That’s what hurt us the most,” he said.

(Source: AFP)

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