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Charlie’s Crossover: NBA finals preview, winner prediction

The Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks will meet at the NBA’s mountaintop for a chance at glory starting on June 6. The two conference champions are the survivors of thrilling playoffs that saw them repeatedly beat their opponents. With Boston boasting the league’s best record and Dallas boasting one of the current top two players in the world, this year’s Finals should be one to remember. With this exciting matchup on the horizon, let's take a look at how the two teams got here, and my prediction for the team that will lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. 

The Celtics entered this season as the favorite to win the Finals, and have kept that reverence all the way through the playoffs and into game one of the Finals. Boston lost just two games during the playoffs and just 18 games in the regular season, giving it an astounding 76-20record in all competitions this season.

The Celtics' quest for their 18th banner runs through their tandem of star forwards: Jayson Tatumand Jaylen Brown. The two stars were drafted in back-to-back years with the number three pick in the draft, and have been worth every bit of the high-prestige selection since then. The two Jays’ combine for nine all-star selections and five all-NBA teams throughout their young careers, and both have won an Eastern Conference Finals MVP award, with Tatum winning it in 2022 and Brown winning it this year after his standout performance against the Indiana Pacers. 

Flanking the Celtics’ two top stars is a world-class trio of complementary stars in Derrick White, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porziņģis. All three players were acquired by trade for Boston, and they have all provided dividends since their acquisitions. Each player in Boston’s starting lineup can shoot and defend at a high level, giving Dallas a matchup that it hasn’t seen so far in the finals. 

Moving on to the representative of the Western Conference, The Dallas Mavericks are entering their third finals in franchise history, and look to capture their second championship. This Dallas team will be relying heavily on its Sloveienan sensation, Luka Dončić. Dončić will be playing in his first finals in his young career and is entering this series after an all-time playoff run. He nearly averaged a 30-point triple-double throughout the playoffs en route to leading his Dallas team to the finals. 

Dončić can’t do it alone, however, and thankfully for him, his running-mate is one of the best scorers the league has ever seen in Kyrie Irving. Irving joined this Dallas team via trade last season, coming to Dallas dejected with some wondering if he would ever be a positive player for a winning team again after his controversies as a player in Brooklyn and Boston. Irving has shown all throughout this year and the playoffs that he is still one of the best second options in the league, and that he can get it done in the clutch. 

Similar to Boston, a group of fantastic role-players compliment the two stars on Dallas. Dereck Lively II, P.J. Washington Jr., Daniel Gafford and Derrick Jones Jr. make up the core of role players to perfectly complement the game of Dončić. That group of players makes for a deadly pick-and-roll game with Washington and Jones being lights out shooting from the corners, knocking down countless shots coming from Dončić passes in the paint. If Dončić doesn’t want to hit the corners, then he can lob it up to Gafford or Lively on the roll, or find a way to score himself with Kyrie being another scoring option late in the shot clock. 

This Mavericks team has been on a tear coming into this series and should battle with the Celtics every step of the way in these Finals. 

While I could truly see either of these teams coming away with the title, I have to give the edge to Boston in this series. As previously mentioned, the Celtics starting lineup and five out offense is something that the Mavericks have not faced yet in the playoffs, and with Porziņģis being healthy and returning from injury, I don’t see how this Celtics team loses four games in a seven-game series. My official prediction is Boston in six games, with Jaylen Brown lifting the Finals MVP trophy.

Charlie Fadel is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts? Let Charlie know by emailing or tweeting him at @CharlieFadel or cf111322@ohio.edu.

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