2024 NBA Finals: 10 Need-To-Knows From Game Four

DALLAS – Game 4 of the NBA Finals was a blowout, but not the kind most expected. It was the previously winless Dallas Mavericks that delivered an emphatic smackdown—not the Boston Celtics— to keep their season alive with a 122-84 victory. The Mavericks’ win prevented them from becoming the only 10th team in NBA history to be swept in the Finals. Now, the Celtics who lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, can win the franchise’s 18th NBA title in Game 5 at home on Monday.

Here are the top 10 need-to-knows from Game 4.

1. LUKA’S DEFENSE

A lot of the discourse heading into Game 4 centered around Luka Doncic’s poor play/effort defensively. Well, he answered his critics with arguably his best game ever defensively. Celtics players were just 2-for-11 shooting in Game 4 when Doncic was the primary defender.

2. LIVELY RE-EMERGES

Dereck Lively II was among the unexpected catalysts who helped propel the Mavericks to the NBA Finals. He’s figured out how to get back to being an impactful contributor for Dallas. The rookie big man had a double-double in Game 4 of 11 points and 12 rebounds, which included him making his first 3-pointer this season. It was his second straight double-double in the Finals.

3. NOT HOW THE C’S JRUE THIS UP

It was just a couple of games ago when Jrue Holiday was on the shortlist of potential NBA Finals MVP candidates. Not today. Holiday, who did not turn the ball over once in the first three Finals games, had five turnovers in Game 4. On top of the miscues, he was 4-for-10 shooting and had a plus/minus of minus-38 points when he was on the court.

4. BOARD CRUSH

Among the areas that Boston struggled throughout Game 4, was rebounding. Dallas would wind up out rebounding the Celtics 52-31 which came after a first half in which the Mavericks had more than doubled (29 to 13) the Celtics’ rebounding total.

5. BAD NIGHT FOR BROWN

The odds-on favorite for NBA Finals MVP, Jaylen Brown did not look the part in Game 4. He scored just 10 points on 3-for-12 shooting. His rebound (1) and assists numbers (2) were low as well. His defense, however, was good in limiting Dallas players to just 2-for-8 shooting when he was the primary defender.

6. THE 3-POINT SHOT

Dallas’ 3-point shooting had been a problem through the first three games of the Finals. Not so much in Game 4 when they connected on 15 of their 37 attempts. To put that in perspective, Dallas only had 22 total makes, or 7.3 per game, through the first three Finals games. 

7. MAVS TAP INTO RESERVE POWER EARLY

Similar to what they did in Game 3, the Dallas Mavericks went to their reserves early and often in Game 4. Most teams go eight or nine deep for the game. Dallas played nine players in the first half, most of whom contributed something to the blowout victory.

8. SEASON LOW SCORING FOR THE CELTICS

To say Game 4 was a struggle offensively for the Boston Celtics doesn’t do justice to how bad things got on Friday. The 84 points scored were Boston’s fewest this season, playoffs or regular season. Their previous low was 91 points (at Milwaukee on April 9) and their playoff low this season was 94 (against Cleveland on May 9).

9. TATUM’S FACILITATING GAME SHUT DOWN

Jayson Tatum can score with the best of them. But a big part of Boston’s success in the playoffs has been his ability to impact the game as a passer. But in Game 4, Tatum had just three assists which is tied for the fewest he has had in a playoff game this year.

10. BY THE NUMBERS

Only two teams in NBA history had a larger margin of victory in an NBA Finals game than Dallas’ 38-point win in Game 4. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz in Game 3 of the 1998 NBA Finals by 42 points (96-54) and the Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers by 39 (131-92) in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals.

Updated: June 15, 2024 — 12:02 pm