3 Dallas Mavericks Most Responsible for Embarrassing NBA Finals Game 1 Loss

After being eliminated in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals series against the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks have plenty of blame to go around. Any time an outcome in such an important moment is as one-sided as this, it will always be the case.

As the franchise prepares for what it hopes will be a bounce-back victory in Game 2 on Sunday, it’s worth looking at the three Mavericks who deserve the lion’s share of the blame for the embarrassing Game 1 loss…

…and in turn, three players who will need to be much better throughout the remainder of the NBA Finals if Dallas is to have a chance.

Even though Derrick Lively II is a rookie and shouldn’t be held to such high standards, the Mavericks were unable to guard Kristaps Porzingis in Game 1 of this series. Lively, who had a good portion of the assignments against Porzingis, did not do well against the star as the Celtics great scored 20 points on 61% shooting.

Lively needs to be significantly better on the defensive end if the Mavericks want to win this series. Yes, that’s a lot to ask of a first-year player on this stage. Still, the Mavericks will likely be in big trouble if Daniel Gafford or Lively are unable to guard Porzingis in this series.

Even though Derrick Jones Jr. hasn’t been great for the Mavericks in the playoffs, the veteran had a pretty bad first game even by those standards. Jones only shot a measly 22% from the floor in this game and can’t keep that up if Dallas wants to have any chance of winning this series. The franchise also needs Jones to play much better on the defensive end of the court.

The winger played horribly on the defensive end, which simply cannot succeed against this Boston lineup. Guarding the Celtics’ elite wing, Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, can be a tough job, but the Mavericks will need Jones to be more of a positive factor in those opportunities to have a chance of returning to the Finals.

Kyrie Irving, whose pick-and-roll play was one of the main reasons analysts were picking the Mavericks to win the series, played extremely poorly in Game 1. Irving, who was on and off at times during Dallas’ playoff run, was unable to make much of an impact in this game, scoring just 12 points on 19 shots.

Point blank, Irving needs to play better in the rest of this series if the franchise wants to have any chance of beating the Boston Celtics in this series. There’s only so much Luka Doncic can do and the franchise will likely need Irving if they want to win this series.

Specifically, the team will likely need the veteran guard to shoot more efficiently than his 36% from the field and 0% from the 3-point line (0-for-5) he posted in the opener.

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