NBA Finals Game 4 updates (2024)

Game 4 was Boston's chance to clinch its 18th championship with a sweep. Instead, Luka Dončić and the Mavericks left no doubt that its season would continue.

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Tim Cato, Jay King, Jared Weiss and more

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Kevin Jairaj / USA Today

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Mike Prada·Staff Editor, NBA

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All signs pointed to Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals as the Boston Celtics' coronation, but the Dallas Mavericks had other ideas. Playing with a sense of desperation after falling behind 3-0, the Mavericks led by 13 points after the first quarter, 26 points at halftime, 32 at the end of the third quarter and cruised to a 122-84 win. Luka Dončić was magnificent with 29 points in 33 minutes, while Dallas' defense stifled Boston's free-flowing attack in ways it hadn't all series.

Scroll down to relive The Athletic's live coverage of Game 4. Here are some highlights:

  • Sam Amick: Luka Dončić delivers another day for Dallas to extend NBA Finals while getting his groove back
  • Tim Cato: Mavericks finally show Celtics and the NBA world their best
  • Jay King: Celtics humbled by Mavs in missed opportunity to sweep: ‘We have to reassemble’
  • Steve Buckley: Celtics reminded of where Mavs are coming from (and the 0-3 thing) in Game 4 beatdown
  • Jared Weiss: Joe Mazzulla warned Celtics they were vulnerable, then Dallas fought back

After the game, legendary TNT analyst Charles Barkley announced next season would be his last on TV "no matter what happens."

GO FURTHERMavericks obliterate Celtics by historic margin in Game 4 to avoid NBA Finals sweep
June 15, 2024 at 10:30 AM EDTJared Weiss·Staff Writer, Celtics

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Joe Mazzulla tried to warn his Celtics team

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Tim Heitman / Getty Images

DALLAS — Joe Mazzulla has never been afraid of failure. He puts himself in compromised positions every day to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It's all to prepare for a moment like this. On the verge of a sweep to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy, it's hard to feel desperate when you have so much room for error.

"The closer you are to beating someone, the closer you are to getting your ass kicked," Mazzulla said before Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. "Tonight I expect the best out of Dallas, and we got to get ready for a fight."

Dallas fought back that night and it wasn't quite enough. Then with their backs against the wall Friday, with the Celtics on the verge of clinching the title, the Mavericks played as if the past three games were a mirage.

It was such a comprehensive reversal of everything that has happened in this series that there was only one way to describe it.

"A simple way: an ass-kicking," Derrick White said. "That's the simplest way right there."

Read the rest of my story here.

GO FURTHERJoe Mazzulla warned Celtics they were vulnerable, then Dallas fought back in NBA Finals

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June 15, 2024 at 10:00 AM EDTSteve Buckley·Senior Writer, Boston

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Rallying from a 3-0 deficit? Celtics have been on the other side before

DALLAS — Yes, the Dallas Mavericks did win Game 4 38 points, and that's the third-biggest margin of victory in NBA Finals history. Now let's talk some real history, such as Dallas coming into the game burdened with nonstop reminders that no NBA team has ever come back to win a postseason series after being down 0-3. Heck, it was practically stamped on the Mavericks' foreheads.

But here's where it gets really interesting: Recent history suggests it's possible to at least give it a shot, and, weirdly, it's the Celtics who have provided that history. It was only last year that the Celtics went down 0-3 to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals and then won three straight games to set up a series-settling Game 7 at TD Garden.

The Celtics got blown out of that Game 7, of course, which is why the no-team-has-won-after-being-down-0-3 thing remains on the books. But that wasn't on the Mavericks’ minds going into Game 4, even if it was on their foreheads. What mattered, the only thing that mattered, was winning one game. As Mavericks coach Jason Kidd put it before the game, "When you talk about the record or the series (being) 3-0, somewhere in this game there's going to be a point where either team is going to have to make a stand or they let go of the rope."

Read the rest of my column here.

GO FURTHERCeltics reminded of where Mavs are coming from (and the down 3-0 thing) in Game 4 beatdown
June 15, 2024 at 9:30 AM EDTJay King·Staff Writer, Celtics

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Celtics' Game 4 loss was a lesson about letting up

DALLAS — The Boston Celtics controlled the first three games of the series with a show of physicality and discipline. As soon as they let up, the details of the matchup flipped. The Mavericks supporting cast, silent earlier in the series, stepped up, with Dereck Lively and Dante Exum starring in their roles. Jason Kidd asked pregame for the Dallas players to maintain their pace throughout the game after he thought they slowed down over the latter part of the first three contests. The Celtics couldn’t even force Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving to step onto the court in the fourth quarter, never mind wear on them enough to make a difference. The two stars combined to score 50 points on 22-for-44 shooting even though they both checked out for good near the end of the third.

With a 3-1 series lead, the Celtics are still in charge of the NBA Finals. But a series can shift quickly. They should have an appropriate fear of what Dallas can do at its best.

"These are the moments that can make you or break you," Jaylen Brown said. "We have to reassemble. We have to look at it and learn from it, and then we've got to embrace it and attack it. It's going to be hard to do what we’re trying to do. We didn't expect anything to be easy, but it's no reason to lose our head. Tip your cap to Dallas. They came out and played well, and we've just got to be better on the next one."

Read more here.

GO FURTHERCeltics humbled by Mavs in missed opportunity to sweep: ‘We have to reassemble’
June 15, 2024 at 9:00 AM EDTTim Cato·Staff Writer, Mavericks

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Mavericks finally make the Celtics blink

DALLAS — When Al Horford talks about what the playoffs are like, it's wise to listen. The 38-year-old veteran, who has played in 185 postseason games in his career, uttered the most meaningful observation following the Dallas Mavericks’ drubbing of his Boston Celtics on Friday.

"You know, I've been in a lot of these, and usually by the second game you’re making adjustments," Horford said. "Third game, you're making another adjustment, and that's kind of how it is. And for us, we've had the first three games, we didn't really make any adjustments. So today, they did something. We have to see how we can be better and prepare for it."

In other words, the Mavericks have finally made their opponent think. They've finally turned the NBA Finals into an actual series. It's just unlikely for it to actually matter, given the team falling into a 3-0 deficit that provides zero margin for error.

Read the rest of my story here.

GO FURTHERMavericks finally show Celtics and the NBA world their best
June 15, 2024 at 8:35 AM EDTSam Amick·Senior Writer, NBA

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Kyrie Irving: Luka Dončić made critics 'eat their words — in a healthy way'

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Kevin Jairaj / USA Today

Kyrie Irving, who knows a thing or two about getting eviscerated in the public space, came to the defense of co-star Luka Dončić, who found a way to fight another day in these Finals after getting criticized for his Game 3 performance.

"I think he made a few people eat their words — in a healthy way," Irving said. "I'll say that — in a healthy way. I don't want to curse up here or anything like that, get into any unnecessary beef, right, between us as players and the media.

"(But) I think this is his first opportunity and first taste of what it's like to be on this stage, and to not play up to your capabilities or be out there toward the end of the game where every mistake is magnified. I think that's probably what I'm really referring to, is when every mistake is magnified, there is going to be a response. That's (the media's) job to give us your criticism. We go home and deal with it in a healthy way, hopefully.

"I think with Luka, like I’ve been reiterating to the guys, stay off social media as best you can, man. Enjoy the moment we're in. It's not about making it this far. It's figuring out the little nuances to get wins on this stage. That's what it's about for us as competitors and that's where our focus should be. He responded very well. I expected it. I think a lot of people expected it, (people) that have seen Luka and known Luka. I just didn’t know how it was going to happen. He made some things happen tonight that I was very proud of him. He grew."

Read the rest of my column on Dončić's Game 4 bounce back here.

GO FURTHERLuka Dončić delivers another day for Dallas to extend NBA Finals while getting his groove back: ‘He grew’
June 15, 2024 at 12:41 AM EDTJenna West

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Charles Barkley to retire from TV after 2025

Amid an uncertain future for NBA coverage on TNT, Charles Barkley said he will retire from TV after next year.

“I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television,” Barkley said on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday. “I want to say thank you to my NBA family. … My heart is full with joy and gratitude, but I’m going to pass the baton at the end of next year.

“I hope that the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me.”

Next year will mark Barkley’s 25th working in broadcasting. The NBA Hall of Famer said he’s spoken with other networks and plans to stay with TNT until he retires.

“I really love TNT, all the people who work here, NBA Television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years,” Barkley said. “You know, there’s been a lot of noise around our network the last few months.”

TNT Sports’ future with the NBA remains in limbo with one piece of the NBA’s next television rights deal still up for grabs.

ESPN is set to pay $2.6 billion per season for the NBA Finals and conference finals in an upcoming deal, while Amazon Prime Video will receive a conference final every other year and is expected to be in the $1.8 billion-per-year range, The Athletic previously reported.

GO FURTHERCharles Barkley says he’ll retire from TV after next year, ‘no matter what happens’ with TNT

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June 15, 2024 at 12:18 AM EDTTyler Batiste·Managing Editor, NBA

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"History's going to be made either way. You'd like to be on the right side of it," Kyrie Irving said postgame.

June 14, 2024 at 11:59 PM EDTJay King·Staff Writer, Celtics

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Jayson Tatum said this was the most stagnant the Celtics have been in this series and it was the worst they've owned their space on the offensive end.

June 14, 2024 at 11:59 PM EDTLaw Murray·Staff Writer, Clippers

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Points in the paint tonight in Game 4, excluding the fourth quarter:

Luka Dončić: 22

Kyrie Irving: 18

Boston Celtics: 18

That was the game tonight.

If you get that Monday, we have a series. I doubt it will be that extreme on both ends of the floor again, though.

June 14, 2024 at 11:55 PM EDTTim Cato·Staff Writer, Mavericks

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Dereck Lively II just told me he "doesn't have any game plan figured out and I'm just trying to adapt every game."

So yes, the rookie walked back his in-game confidence slightly.

June 14, 2024 at 11:52 PM EDTJared Weiss·Staff Writer, Celtics

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Jaylen Brown: "These are the moments that can make you or break you. We gotta reassemble."

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June 14, 2024 at 11:44 PM EDTJoe Vardon·Senior Writer, NBA

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Luka Dončić says Jason Kidd's support is 'a big thing'

While Luka Dončić cooked in the first half, he also played noticeably better defensively, finishing with three steals. Dallas seemed to switch more on the pick-and-roll to protect Dončić from being caught in mismatches, but he held his own when challenged.

After his sloppy performance in Game 3 – he was beaten repeatedly on defense and fouled out, thanks to four fouls called on him in the fourth quarter – Dončić was roundly criticized for both his defense and his complaining to the officials. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd had asked critics to "give my man a break" in his remarks before Game 4 and predicted Dončić would be better Friday. Kidd was correct.

"He didn't say anything to me specifically, but that speaks a lot about him. He always has players' backs," Dončić said. "He always support us. That's a big thing, to have a coach like that."

June 14, 2024 at 11:36 PM EDTJohn Hollinger·Senior Writer, NBA

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Dereck Lively II, asked about his first career 3, pointed to the sky and said "that's for her," referring to his late mother.

GO FURTHERMavericks’ Dereck Lively II lost his mother, but found a family with his team
June 14, 2024 at 11:31 PM EDTTyler Batiste·Managing Editor, NBA

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Stacy Revere / Getty Images

Dereck Lively II's first words of his postgame press conference:

"I'm not comfortable."

June 14, 2024 at 11:30 PM EDTLaw Murray·Staff Writer, Clippers

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This was the only NBA Finals game with one day rest.

Monday night's Game 5 will be interesting for sure. But this Game 4 feels to me like an aberration until further notice. The Mavericks should be kicking themselves for how Games 2 and 3 went.

June 14, 2024 at 11:29 PM EDTMike Prada·Staff Editor, NBA

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A milestone of sorts for Kyrie Irving

This Mavericks win snapped his 12-game personal losing streak against the Celtics, his former team.

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June 14, 2024 at 11:28 PM EDTHunter Patterson

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Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić's fathers seem just as close as their sons after the Game 4 win.

June 14, 2024 at 11:26 PM EDTJared Weiss·Staff Writer, Celtics

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Al Horford noted that usually in a series, you have to make adjustments each game or two, but Boston didn't have to make any adjustments through their first three wins.

Now they have to go back to the drawing board and solve Dallas' turnaround.

June 14, 2024 at 11:22 PM EDTTim Cato·Staff Writer, Mavericks

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Too little, too late? At least Mavericks finally looked like their pre-Finals selves

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Tim Heitman / Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks proved they were worthy NBA finalists over the past four months. They proved it by — get this — handily winning the three series required to reach the finals. For the first three games, they often did not look like that team. In Game 4, they finally did.

Look, Boston’s 3-0 lead makes all but certain what will happen in this series. It was an ugly performance from the Celtics, but it was one the Mavericks did far more to cause than at any prior point in the series. Dallas could have won Game 2 or Game 3. Yes, both chances were provided to them by the Celtics: one miserable shooting performance, another one playing without Kristaps Porziņģis, whose injury was an unfortunate event that was poised to be enormously influential.

But that Porziņģis injury could have swung this series if Dallas had played like this sooner. If they had figured out its defensive rotations that bothered Boston throughout this fourth game sooner. If Dereck Lively II hadn't needed two games of acclimation before re-emerging as the team's third-best player. If Kyrie Irving hadn't disappeared in the series’ first two games. If Luka Dončić had better command of his emotions in a highly winnable Game 3. If Jason Kidd had figured out what his best rotation was sooner.

It won't matter now, not unless history's made in the unlikeliest way, but there was a much more competitive version of this series that could have happened had Dallas been more like the team they'd been, one which unquestionably deserved to be here.

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NBA Finals Game 4 updates (2024)

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