How the Celtics headed into the NBA Finals with a Game 2 victory that hurt the Mavericks

BOSTON — Luka Doncic is hurting. Kyrie Irving is struggling and Jason Kidd’s mind game isn’t working on the Celtics. All the makings of a 2-0 hole for Dallas in the NBA Finals.

Boston took firm command of the series on Sunday night with a 105-98 win behind Jrue Holiday’s 26 points, Jayson Tatum’s triple-double and another tying effort from Jaylen Brown.

Doncic, playing with a bruised chest in addition to knee and ankle injuries, dominated again in the loss, this time with a 32-point triple-double. But he scored just 9 points after the break, and if any injuries hit him and the Mavs aren’t going to get extra help from another player, Dallas can’t afford it.

“I think my turnovers and missed free throws cost us the game,” said Doncic, who said he was “fine” physically. He suffered an injury in Game 1, but said he had no pain until the next day.

“I really was [questionable], Doncic said. “But I always want to play. Throughout the day we did a lot of things to prepare.

Irving is shooting 13 of 37 in the series after scoring 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting in Game 2. He’s 0 of 8 on 3s in two games. Irving’s teams have never beaten Boston since he left the Celtics in 2019, losing 12 straight.

“I’ll take the brunt of the responsibility,” Irving said. “The first two games weren’t the best for me, especially with (Luca) getting 25-plus points, getting rebounds, getting assists, doing intangible things, and for me, I always feel responsible for getting other guys comfortable. , too.”

“It’s on all of us,” Irving continued. “If you listen to everyone, I’m sure they’ll say they could do something better.

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“But I think the message right now is to get our bearings together.”

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Game 3 is Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

After Saturday’s practice, Mavs coach Jason Kidd said Brown, not the more decorated Tatum, is the Celtics’ best player, in an apparent attempt to sow division among his opponents. It’s not a debate that will be settled in one game anyway, but Tatum had a poor shooting night to produce 18 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists.

Brown added 21 points, seven assists and three steals in the two-way outing. Boston clung to a 5-point lead late in the fourth quarter when Brown (along with Derrick White) defended a dunk from Dallas’ PJ Washington, then Brown took a 105-98 lead at the other end. 29 seconds left.

“I’m so tired of trying to make one guy, or this guy, or that guy, or anything else but Celtics basketball,” Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Everybody that stepped on that court today played on both ends of the floor and won, and that’s the most important thing.”

Holiday was the Celtics’ top man on the scoreboard Sunday. The only champion on the roster, he hit 11 of 14 shots and contributed 11 rebounds. His perimeter defense was a factor in Boston’s successful defensive game plan, putting Dancic and Irving on islands and cutting off the rest of the Dallas offense by limiting ball movement.

“I’m a utility guy. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’m here to win,” said Holiday, one of Boston’s two key additions last season. “I feel like they brought me here to win, and I’m going to do everything I can to do that. But at the end of the day it’s (Tatum and Brown’s) team, and I know it’s probably going to be my team, but again, I feel like I’ve talked about it before, the pressure on them to execute and be better is a little bit different than mine.

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“They are superstars and I’m here to support.”

White finished with 18 points. He chased Washington from across the court late in the fourth quarter.

“That’s sick,” Mazzulla said.

The child had a different opinion. “It looked like a foul, but it wasn’t called, so it wasn’t a foul,” Kidd said.

If there was one blemish to the Celtics’ night, it was that Kristaps Poroshenko aggravated his right calf, causing him to miss 10 playoff games. Porsches finished with 12 points on Sunday, but fumbled in the fourth quarter and struggled up and down the court before being ejected for the rest of the game.

“Zero (concerns),” Mazzulla said of Porsche. “He’s good.”

Borchisis said he will need to be evaluated Monday before the Celtics fly to Dallas for Game 3, but it sounds like he wants to play.

“I’m going to die right there,” Bourchis said.

Dallas trailed by 23 points and trailed 54-51 going into Doncic. The Celtics maintained control in the third quarter, leading by 13, and Payton Pritchard hit a 3 as time expired to send Boston with an 83-74 advantage back into the NBA Finals logo.

“I think it’s the play of the game and it can’t go unnoticed,” Mazzulla said of Pritchard’s shot. “You see people around the league pass up on that shot, or fake like they don’t want to take it so their numbers don’t get messed up. He takes pride in taking that (shot), and that’s winning basketball.

Doncic added 11 boards and 11 assists, shooting 12 of 21 from the field with four steals. Washington contributed 17 points and seven rebounds as the Mavericks went 2-for-13 over 3 seconds in the second half. For the game, all Dallas players not named “Doncic” went 2 of 17 from the 3-point line.

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The Mavericks are coming off a win at the free-throw line, where they missed 8 of 24 foul shots. The Celtics converted 19 of 20 at the line to help make up for poor shooting from 3-point range (10 of 39).

“(Dončić) put us in a position – he was really good tonight,” Kidd said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t get over the hump. I thought our defense was really good. We just had to take care of the ball. There were a lot of turnovers that gave them points, and then — we just have to hit the ball, now, to find someone to join Luca and Ki in that scoring department.” want

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(Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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