“Whatever it takes, as long as it takes,” stated a stoic Jrue Holiday after Boston’s game two win Sunday. He did not feel he had much to celebrate, understanding that the Celtics were still two wins away from their ultimate goal. For now, he settled for 26 points on 11/14 shooting, the difference in the game.

Boston’s depth and defense proved too much for Dallas for the second straight game. Joe Mazzula’s men had their worst shooting game of the postseason, 25% from three, but Boston overwhelmed Dallas with their athleticism, driving and timely baskets.

Holiday was the catalyst on both sides of the ball, but six Celtics scored in double figures, as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown traded in points for assists, combing for 19 between them. Their defensive structure kept them in the game when their shooting touch evaded them. Boston has been locked in for two straight games, giving the Mavericks nothing besides difficult contested twos in isolation. With an ability to switch 1-5 and a game plan that always Doncic to play 1-on-1, Boston wears out its opponents and shuts the water off when the contest tightens.

Luka Doncic took responsibility for Dallas’ defeat postgame, saying, “My turnovers and missed free throws cost us the game.” The Slovenian went 4-8 from the foul line and gave the ball to Boston eight times, turning it over like it was going out of style, but his teammates are at fault for the loss. Doncic dropped 32 points, gathered 11 rebounds and dished out 11 assists, a triple-double, while dealing with three different ailments, including a thoracic contusion suffered in game one.

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The other Mavericks went 2-17 from deep, and nobody scored over 17 points. Kyrie Irving, supposed to be Doncic’s running mate, continues to struggle against the Celtics. He went 7-18 from the floor with 16 points but scored just six in the second half. The physical defense of Brown, Holiday and Derrick White befuddled Irving, and without his offensive brilliance, Dallas scored under 100 points for the second straight game.

After getting blown out in the first game of the Finals, Dallas came out with better intensity for 48 minutes, and threw the first punch. The Mavericks raced out to an early 9-2 lead and took a 28-25 advantage into the second. Doncic has been exceptional in the first quarter after losses in the playoffs, and Sunday was no different. He dropped 13 of Dallas’ opening 28 on efficient 5-7 shooting. Meanwhile, the Celtics looked discombobulated offensively. Tatum did not score a point and missed every shot from the floor, while the team went 1-9 from three. 10-10 free throws in the first kept the game close as their drives and spacing forced Dallas to guard on an island, which they do not have the perimeter players for.

A Doncic step-back jumper with ten minutes left in the second put Dallas up by six before the Celtics woke up from their malaise. White knocked down a three from a Tatum assist, giving Boston their first lead and providing the exclamation point on a 7-0 run. The teams traded baskets and stayed within one possession of each other for most of the half until a Holiday three put Boston up by five. The Celtics went into the break up 54-51 while weathering the Doncic storm as the Slovenian dropped 23 points in 21 minutes.

The Mavericks started the second half like they did the first, with a quick four-point barrage, giving themselves an early lead.

It would be their final time in front for the night.

Boston’s consistent drives gave them easy offense, as Dallas could not contain the ball. Twelve of their first 15 points in the third came from the paint, and a Brown layup put Boston up six, their largest lead of the game, forcing Jason Kidd to call a timeout with four minutes left in the quarter. The stoppage did not change the momentum, and the Celtics doubled their advantage 90 seconds later after another Holiday layup. The Mavericks fought back to end the frame, cutting the deficit to six with three seconds left before Payton Pritchard checked himself into the game and launched a 34-foot three at the buzzer that banked in.

Up 83-74, Boston attempted to throw a haymaker in the first five minutes of the fourth. Tatum made his first three of the game at the ten-minute mark, putting Boston up ten, and three minutes later, his free throws tied the Celtics largest lead at 12.

Worn down from carrying the offense for the first three quarters, Doncic went scoreless when his team needed him most. After Mazzula called timeout, holding a 97-89 advantage with five minutes left, the lid came off the basket for the Celtics from deep. Back-to-back triples from Holiday and White put Boston up 14, and a furious Mavs comeback could not be completed as Tatum and CO. finished out game two, winning 105-98.

Doncic and Irving shot 5-16 in the second half, and the Slovenian scored just three points in the fourth as his body gave in. In a sport dominated by offense, the defense once again closed out the game for the Celtics, and they head to Dallas with all the momentum.

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