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These Three Factors Could Dictate The 2024 NBA Finals

After two incredibly tight and entertaining opening rounds of the NBA playoffs, the conference finals left no doubts about who deserves to be battling for this year's championship. The Celtics and Mavericks look like they're going to deliver an extremely enticing finals, and here's where the title could be decided.

Luka And Kyrie Will Win Their Matchups - But By How Much?

Even as a Celtics fan, it's impossible to ignore the threat that the Mavs' star duo pose, especially on the offensive end. Doncic is a natural scorer with excellent court vision. He has the size to pose an interior threat, the shooting ability to threaten from the outside, and the clutch instincts to rise to any and all occasions.

Irving has been and succeeded at this stage, and is arguably one of the best ball handlers of all time, and he has found a situation in Dallas that suits his style well. While the amount of facilitating he does changes from game to game, his pass sense is also undeniable. The Celtics, however, will challenge that duo with easily the most difficult matchups they have faced to this point.

Guarding Luka and Kyrie, for the most part, will likely be Jrue Holiday and Derrick White, respectively. Holiday and White were both all-defensive second-teamers this year, and they both have excellent vision, footwork, and instincts that allow them to make life difficult for anyone they're guarding, and they both have the tendency to elevate in the big stages.

Holiday and White are also strong scorers, and while they've been on the inconsistent side, the defensive side, especially for Doncic, is where that duo can be attacked. Kyrie and Luka can't be stopped - but with the defenders that Boston has, they could at least be limited and bothered, and with the matchup advantages that Boston has elsewhere, that may be all that's needed.

Can JT Rise To The Occasion?

It'll take a team effort for either team to win this series, but for Boston, the buck still stops with Tatum. Brown has certainly been an excellent 1B option this year, and he proved as much in the ECF, but Tatum's headspace and efficacy will be the most important aspect for Boston.

In this year's playoffs, through some inconsistent shooting, Tatum has found other ways to be productive for the Celtics via the glass and as a facilitator. For the Celtics to win the finals, he's going to have to be effective in all three phases. Turnovers were a huge issue for Tatum and the entire Celtics team in their last trip to the NBA Finals, and he'll have to cut those down as well.

For Tatum, and to an extent, the entire team, arguably the most important offensive aspect will be shot selection. The Celtics have a lot of tools on offense, and they are an extremely effective three-point shooting team that has no fear of being aggressive from behind the arc. At times, however, it becomes a compulsion and a crutch.

To increase the threat from behind the arc, establishing themselves from the inside will be paramount. Tatum is an excellent driver, partially because of strong ball-handling skills, but mainly because of the power and focus with which he approaches the hoop - more often than not, when he chooses to drive, he either makes it or is fouled. Tatum's at his best when he properly balances threes, mid-range jumpers, and drives, and not getting overly three-happy will allow Tatum to be at his best.

How Will The Rim Battles Go?

Against the Timberwolves, the Mavs found a lot of their effectiveness on the inside, especially on the glass, but also in terms of setting up lobs and dunks. They use the pick-and-roll incredibly well to create space and opportunities to make plays at the rim. The lob brothers - Gafford and Lively, create plays reminiscent of the Clippers back in the Blake Griffin era, and there's a reason that Gafford led the NBA in field goal shooting this year.

Porzingis couldn't be coming back at a more important time for the Celtics in that sense. While his defense is inconsistent, his sheer size and shot-blocking ability will make things difficult for Dallas, and will also allow Al Horford to play fewer minutes and focus on playing the situational defense he is so skilled at. On the offensive side, between Tatum and Brown's driving skills, and Porzingis's ability to shoot, drive, and pass from deep in the paint, the Celtics will also have a lot of success on the inside in their offensive stretches.

The defense on Kyrie and Luka, as mentioned before, will be paramount here, as the focal point of the setups of the Dallas rim plays will be the vision and passing from Kyrie and Luka.

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