Celtics stars don’t have to be at their best for team to win NBA title

    As the Boston Celtics are now two wins away from a championship, their depth is proving to be too much for the Mavericks to handle. And something Paul Pierce, the leader of the last Celtics team to win a title in 2008, said after game 1 perfectly sums up the NBA Finals to this point.  

    Pierce even said, “It looks like the Mavericks are outmatched” on Fox Sports’ daily debate show “Undisputed” on Friday. He then elaborated that, unlike Dallas, Boston’s stars do not have to be at their best for the Celtics to win. And the results are barring that out so far. 

    In Game 1, Kristaps Porzingis returned from injury to have a historic night off the bench. Boston won 107-89, dominating the Mavericks most of the night. But while Porzingis receded 20 points in 20 minutes, the Celtics’ two top players only combined for 38 while each experienced twice as much time on the court. 

    Jaylen Brown scored 22 and Jayson Tatum, the one player with perhaps the most pressure on him to perform, only recorded 16 points. Each did contribute in other ways, most notably defense and rebounding, granted they also totaled eight turnovers, too. 

    Neither Brown or Tatum had their best games in game 1, but it didn’t matter and the win shielded them from facing any serious criticism. However, there were two stars in the series who did hear about their struggles. Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving didn’t do enough and their team lost. Despite scoring 30 on 26 shots, Doncic was a -10 and had four turnovers. Irving was just 6-for-19 and mostly ineffective. 

    Game 2 then became a similar result for Boston and in more ways than one. On Sunday night, the Celtics won again, this time in a closer battle, 105-98. Boston officially defended home court and holds a 2-0 series lead as the Finals shifts to Dallas. 

    Doncic responded with a triple-double, scoring a more efficient 32 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Irving added 16 with six assists but was only 7-of-18 from the field. None of that was enough. 

    For Boston, it once again wasn’t Brown or Tatum leading the way. And this time, it wasn’t Porzingis either. The Celtics’ MVP of Game 2 was Jrue Holiday — the only player on the team who already has an NBA championship ring. Holiday, mostly known for his defensive prowess, showed his ability to score when called upon. 

    Holiday led his team with 26 points and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes on the floor. Holiday only missed three field goal attempts all game, connecting on 11-of-14 shots.  

    Brown had 21, Tatum 18 and Porzingis 12. Derrick White even added 18 of his own. Much like in game 1, the Celtics enjoyed a total team effort and didn’t have to rely on their top players.

    No matter what, winning is the most important thing in the playoffs. Winning can often mask any issue.

    While the pressure is on Joe Mazzulla and the Celtics to win and finally achieve the title that’s alluded the franchise since 2008, it’s possible this particular Celtics team is so deep a record 18th banner being raised to the TD Garden rafters is simply inevitable one way or another. 

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