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Superman died a while ago: the Celtics are one step away from the NBA title for playing as a team, not for their stars


156-0. That is the daunting number the Dallas Mavericks face after losing at home to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals .

No team has managed to reverse a 0-3 lead in all of history. And if we look at the signals from both teams to win the Larry O'Brien trophy, we will see that this matter is millimeters away from being judged.

The Mavericks must learn from the Celtics . Achieving a championship is a process, it takes time, and along that path the most valuable thing is learning. Climb step by step. On Wednesday night, Jayson Tatum (31 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Jaylen Brown (30, eight and eight), combined to score 61 points. On the other hand, Luka Doncic had 27 points, six boards and six assists, and Kyrie Irving had 35, three and two respectively. That is to say, the duos of both teams were very up to par.

What was the difference then? The environment. The companions. The team. The arrival of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis, who was absent today, rounded off a championship team. No one demands titanic, supernatural, decisive performances from Tatum and Brown anymore, but rather they occur as a consequence of a group game. But to achieve it, Boston had to bang his head against the wall many times. Fall, get up, fall and get up again.

The Mavericks got here after an extreme effort that involved gritted victories against the Clippers, Thunder and Timberwolves. But they have to understand that it is not enough with Doncic and Irving. We love watching them play, they are wizards with the ball, but they need more company. Luka's sixth foul in a phenomenal team recovery in the fourth quarter is frustration, tiredness and wear and tear.

Superman, in postmodern basketball, died a long time ago .

Boston is one win away from sweeping the series against Dallas after sweeping Indiana in the Conference Finals. If we win the championship it will be, without exaggeration, an act of justice. The Finals between the Celtics and Mavericks is the fight of science against esotericism, the pragmatism of what is measurable from the empirical against the pilgrimage of a miracle. In a best-of-seven series, sooner or later, there will be no room for doubt.

The Celtics are stronger, they execute a determined strategy night after night and they reach the end in better conditions. Tatum and Brown have much better company than Doncic and Irving. Even without Porzingis out due to injury, a streak that extends this postseason to ten wins and one loss without the Latvian.

Mark Cuban will have to review this in the offseason. They improved, of course, they are in the NBA Finals. But to win you need more. The Mavericks don't have a Holiday, a White, a Horford. It's not personal, it's what we all see.

Despite everything, Dallas sold the defeat dearly, because they lost by 21 after a fateful third quarter in which Boston won 35-19. But then, something extraordinary happened: a 22-2 run for the Mavericks and a close game. With 3.30 left to play, Doncic went out due to fouls (he was exhausted at that moment, excessive in complaints with the referees and with little mobility) and the Celtics imposed their law: they won that quarter 13-7, with percentages of 63% against 29% on field goals.

Fatigue directly threatens mobility. The Mavericks made their shots worse due to staticity and Boston, fluid, elegant with Tatum and Brown, once again punished with triples resulting from penetrations and downloads. In this way, they went 7-13 from third dimension.

There are three points that explain the 3-0 of the series. The first and most important, the luxury defense . Holiday is a trained attack dog, White is the smartest player on the team, Al Horford is at a very high level (he limited Irving and Doncic to 3-8 on Wednesday and 6-26 so far in the series) and Brown is the MVP of the championship definition. For his play without the ball and also for his transformation later into attack. But let's not leave the defense: Joe Mazzulla, on Wednesday, brought Xavier Tillman into the rotation, who limited Irving and Doncic to 2-6 from the field. That is, the one that enters is attached to the structure and works. Because what works, pardon the pun, is the team.

What did the Celtics do against Doncic? Always change the curtains. Not only because they want to, but because they can: the change always found a defender in a position to stop it through ability and excellence without the ball. Basically, they are all good, seamless.

And the rival triples? They controlled the lethal shots in the corners, a virtue for Dallas in previous series. In the Finals they went on to shoot 26 triples against 33.9 in the first three rounds.

One more extra piece of information in this section are the caps: 20 for the Celtics against 5 for the Mavericks so far in the tie.

The second point is, as we said, the shots behind the arc . There are 43 for Boston against 22 for Dallas so far in the Finals, including in this third game Sam Hauser to the distance shooting party. And the third point is linked to that , which is the assists : 78 for the Celtics against 45 for the Mavericks. These decisive numbers explain the fluidity of both in attacking.

Mazzulla and his group of assistants know how tired Doncic is. Without wear and tear he is a below average defender, imagine how worn out he is today. For that reason they attack him consistently. It is not new, it is something that has happened before in the series against the Clippers and in the tie against the Thunder. His lateral mobility to control elite athletes is far from ideal and from these breaks his attacker reaches the rim or finds the first door to unload if a teammate of Luka helps.

Years ago, the green team suffered in the clutch. At times he dried up, made wrong decisions, and that's how the games slipped away. That doesn't happen anymore. So much so that the Celtics are the best clutch team in the entire playoffs, with a 6-0 record when these situations arise and with the best net efficiency in these types of moments (+46.9).

Boston is one step away from hanging its 18th championship pennant. 16 years have passed since its last Larry O'Brien trophy (2008), when the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, with Rajon Rondo as the brains, They defeated the Lakers of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in the definition.

The Celtics are Tatum. They are Brown. They are Holiday. They are Porzingis. They are White. They are Horford. But more than the sum of the parts, they are the whole: together they make up intense, intelligent and synergistic basketball. That of all for all.

Will the sweep be completed? Will the series return to TD Garden? On Friday it will be the turn of the fourth game.

After game three, we can already say it: there is no tomorrow for the Mavericks .


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