“That’s a good question. I don’t know. We’ll have to see,” answered Kristaps Porzingis when asked if he was 100%. The 7’3” big man returned last night for the Celtics after missing 38 days with a soleus strain.

As Mike Breen proclaimed last night, “I’m not sure the Porzingis family would have predicted this.”

After coming off the bench, the Latvian instantly made his impact felt, and the T.D. Garden crowd responded. He finished the first quarter with 11 points, three rebounds, three blocks and +16. He nailed a 29-foot three as part of a Boston barrage to end the first up 17. He scored 22 points in just 21 minutes of game action as both coaches pulled their starters with five minutes to go in the fourth. He played his best game of the season at the most critical time.

Along with Porzingis’ unicorn-like comeback, the Celtic defense stole the show. Boston held Dallas to 89 points, their lowest mark of the postseason, and 25% from three. The Celtic strategy focused on forcing Luka Doncic to play one one-on-one and making him win in isolation. The Slovenian still ended the game with 30 points but only one assist, his lowest mark of the playoffs. The Mavs only finished with nine helpers on the day, and Boston had as many blocks (9) as Dallas did assists. Kyrie Irving, the focal point of jeering from the Celtic fans, did not deliver the goods and let his co-star down. He went 0-5 from three and only knocked in 12 points as his record drops to 0-11 when playing his former team since he left them.

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Dallas went up by four in the game’s first three minutes, but was the last of their lead. Instantly, the Celtics ripped off a 7-0 run to retake control, and after a few minutes of back-and-forth action, Boston buried the Mavericks. Over the final six minutes of the first, Joe Mazzula‘s men ripped off a 23-5 run to end the quarter, with Porzingis scoring 11 of the 23. The Celtics picked up their defensive intensity, making Dallas play through a crowd and full-court pressure that they melted under. On the offensive end, Boston knocked down five threes in five minutes, including three long balls in 40 seconds, setting the tone for the rest of the series.

The dominance continued in the second, and the Celtics doubled up the Mavs 58-29 with four minutes to play in the half after a 10-0 run. Doncic began to heat up to the end quarter, knocking down a signature step-back with nine seconds remaining to cap off a 7-0 sprint, but still were down 63-42 as the buzzer sounded.

The momentum they used to close the half stayed with Dallas during the opening minutes of the third. The Boston offense went stagnant as the Mavs chipped into the Celtic advantage. Doncic had ten points in eight minutes, including a 27-foot long-range bomb that cut the deficit to eight.

However, this is not the Celtics of old. Mazzula called a timeout to refocus his team, and the stoppage in play helped them slam the door for good.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown did not have their best games offensively but took the game over when their team needed it. The duo scored or assisted on all 14 points of a back-breaking 14-0 run for the Celtics to end the third. After what the Mavs did to begin the quarter, they still only won the third 24-23.

Dallas dug themselves a hole too steep to climb out of, and except for a few nervous minutes in the third, Boston convincingly took care of business. Boston went up by 20 points heading into the fourth, 86-66, as their defensive dominance shut Dallas out.

The Mavs never got within more than 17 for the rest of the night and did not have any pushback left, scoring just nine points in the first seven minutes of the fourth. Jason Kidd waved the white flag with the Celtics up 100-75, and soon after, Boston’s stars checked out of game one for the final time.

Boston won 107-89 in a game that never felt that competitive. Dallas will surely make adjustments, but the Celtic spacing is a question few teams have had an answer for all season—seven players in green and white made multiple threes, an NBA Finals record.

Each team gets two days off instead of the usual one because it is the finals. Game two will be Sunday back in Boston.

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