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OPINION: NBA playoffs conference finals

Boston+Celtics+center+Al+Horford+%2842%29+and+Dallas+Mavericks+center+Dereck+Lively+II+%282%29+reach+for+the+opening+tip+during+the+first+half+of+an+NBA+game%2C+Monday%2C+Jan.+22%2C+2024%2C+in+Dallas.
Tribune News Service
Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) and Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) reach for the opening tip during the first half of an NBA game, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, in Dallas.

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers (4–0)
The Boston Celtics demonstrated their dominance and prowess by sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. They were led by game one hero and Eastern Conference Finals’ Most Valuable Player, Jaylen Brown, who averaged 29.8 points per game.

The Pacers, without star player Tyrese Haliburton for games three and four, were no match for the mighty Celtics, who lost only two games total throughout their trip to the finals. One loss to the Miami Heat in round one, and then one loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in round two.

Indiana came in as a No. 6 seed and fought all the way to the conference finals by knocking off the Milwaukee Bucks led by Weber State Alumni Damian Lillard in round one, then eliminating the number two ranked Knicks in seven games.

The clock struck midnight on their Cinderella story and turned back into the proverbial pumpkin. The depth, star power and 3-point sharpshooting by Boston was too much to handle.

The Celtics now head to the NBA Finals for the second time in the last three years and are seeking their first Championship since 2009.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (4–1)
The Dallas Mavericks outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals. Dallas, having arguably the best backcourt in history with Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving, seemed to have their way with any kind of defense Minnesota threw at them.

The Timberwolves were the No. 1-rated defensive team in the league and had Defensive Player of the Year winner Rudy Gobert as their anchor. But even with all the stats and trophies received by Minnesota, they were no match for the pick and roll style offense that the Mavericks have perfected.

Dončić averaged 32.4 points per game along with 8.2 assists and 9.6 rebounds and was nominated as the Western Conference Finals MVP. There is no doubt Dallas would have one with Kyrie Irving on the roster.

Irving, a veteran with dribbling handles blessed by the basketball gods, had been perceived as a diva and bad teammate on past teams. Irving had a point to prove and has taken shotgun while Luka Dončić takes the reins of the organization.

Irving had clutch shooting all series and put up 36 points in the closeout game to send the Timberwolves packing. The Mavericks were not afraid of the Timberwolves and proved that they were all bark, but no bite.

Dallas will now face the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals, seeking their first title since 2011 with game one taking place on June 6 at the TD Garden in Boston.

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Brayson Brown, Sports Reporter

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