3 reasons Celtics will win 2024 NBA Finals over Mavericks

The Boston Celtics started the offseason by making a bold trade to shake up their lineup construction. They ended it with another blockbuster deal to solidify what was overwhelmingly the best starting group in the NBA.

Boston wasn’t just the best team in the NBA all season — it was statistically one of the most dominant teams in league history. Anything less than a championship was always going to feel like a disappointment for the Celtics, and now they’re four wins away from banner No. 18. The Celtics enter the 2024 NBA Finals as a sizable favorite against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs might have the biggest star on the floor, but Boston has six of the eight-or-nine best players in the series.

The Celtics were in the NBA Finals in 2022 and seem like they make at least the conference finals every season. After trading for Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday in the offseason, Boston finally has the pieces around stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to win it all. Here are three reasons why the Celtics are destined to win the 2024 NBA Finals.

1. The Celtics have the best 5-man lineup in the NBA

The Celtics punished teams on both ends of the floor all year. Boston was No. 1 in offensive rating, No. 2 in defense rating, and No. 1 in net-rating. Trading Marcus Smart for Porzginis at the start of the offseason cemented the Celtics as a five-out team that threatened the opposing defense from every spot on the floor. Adding Jrue Holiday late in the offseason in the aftermath of Milwaukee’s move for Damian Lillard gave Boston the lockdown defense and offensive connector it needed to stamp itself as the best team in the league.

Boston’s starting group played 1,293 possessions this season and out-scored their opponents by 12 points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass. Milwaukee and Denver each had slightly stronger point-differentials, but no one could match the way Boston’s group drove winning. The Celtics’ 64 wins were the most in the NBA, and 14 more than anyone else in the East. Even if their playoff road ended up being a little soft, no one can say the Celtics are unproven entering the NBA Finals. They dominated the entire season.

2. The Celtics can bury teams from three-point range

The Celtics are dedicated to shooting threes with high volume, and it makes sense because they have so many great shooters in the lineup. Boston took 47.1 percent of their shots from three-point range this season, which ranked No. 1 in the league. It made 38.8 percent of their threes, which ranked No. 2 in the league. On the season, Boston made 1,351 three-pointers, which was 140 more than the next best team, the Golden State Warriors.

When the Celtics go on a three-point barrage, it feels like a knockout punch no team can come back from. Every player in Boston’s starting five made at least 35 percent of their threes, which is so impressive given their massive volume. Even the Celtics’ bench — the obvious weakness of the team — is filled with players who can space the floor and hit an open three. Al Horford hit 42 percent of his threes this year, Sam Hauser hit 42.4 percent from deep, and Payton Pritchard made 38.5 percent of his long balls.

The Celtics can generate open looks from three easily with so many great drivers and passers. When they get hot and knock them down, the game is usually over in the blink of an eye.

3. The Celtics have no weak spots in their defense

The NBA Playoffs often turn into a game of picking out the worst defender, having their man set a screen for your star, and letting that star go to work. Good luck playing that game against the Celtics: Boston starts four awesome on-ball defenders, and then has a very good rim protector in Porzingis manning the backline.

Luka Doncic will be Boston’s toughest test yet, but no team in the league is better prepared to handle him. Doncic has called Jrue Holiday the toughest defender he’s faced. The Celtics can put Tatum on Dallas’ centers and switch every screen. Derrick White is excellent at shooting at the gaps and providing help, while Jaylen Brown does a good job of keeping his man in front of him. There’s no defensive liability in Boston’s lineup.