2024 NBA Finals

Celtics-Mavericks: 24 key stats ahead of 2024 NBA Finals

Offense. Defense. Historical trends. Breaking down 24 numbers that matter heading into the 2024 NBA Finals.

Whether it’s finding 3-point shooters or rolling big men, Luka Doncic’s passing has been top-notch this postseason.

• Download the NBA App

The Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks will each be the best team that the other has faced in these playoffs.

The Celtics have been dominant, losing just two games (fewest for a finalist in the last seven years) and outscoring opponents by 10.8 points per 100 possessions, all while playing without Kristaps Porzingis for their last 10 games.

But their opponents have also been shorthanded, and none of them were as strong as the Mavs, who have gone 36-14 since early February. The Celtics have also (and obviously) not faced a duo as difficult to defend as Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Here are some numbers to know regarding the Celtics and Mavs, with the NBA Finals set to tip off on Thursday (8:30 ET, ABC):

The basics

1. The Celtics are the first team in the 28 years for which we have play-by-play data to, statistically, be the best team in the regular season (plus-11.7 points per 100 possessions) and in each of the first three rounds of the playoffs: plus-17.0 in the first round, plus-8.5 in the conference semis, and plus-6.3 in the conference finals.

2. The Celtics have outscored their opponents by 9.9 points per game from 3-point range, by 4.1 points in the restricted area, and by 6.1 points per game on free throws. Those are all the best differentials in the playoffs.

3. Luka Doncic has averaged 28.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists. If he maintained those numbers, he’d be just the third different player to average at least 28, eight and eight in at least 15 playoff games, joining LeBron James (2015, 2018) and Nikola Jokic (2023).

4. The Mavs are the only team in the last three postseasons with multiple wins (they’re 2-3) in games they trailed by at least 17 points. The Celtics, meanwhile, are 10-0 in games they led by double-digits.

5. In the 22 years since the first-round series changed to best-of-seven (44 teams total), the Celtics (6-2 at home, 6-0 on the road) and Mavs (5-3, 7-2) are just the fifth and sixth teams to reach the Finals with a better playoff record on the road than they had at home.

Celtics efficiency by round

Round Opp. OffRtg Rank AdjO DefRtg Rank AdjD
First round MIA 117.7 3 +6.2 100.7 3 -12.6
Conf. semis CLE 120.2 2 +8.0 111.7 2 -3.0
Conf. finals IND 121.0 1 +3.4 114.8 2 -5.8

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
AdjO = OffRtg – opponent’s regular-season DefRtg
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
AdjD = DefRtg – opponent’s regular-season OffRtg

Celtics’ offense

6. The Celtics rank first in field goal percentage in the paint (63.2%) in the playoffs, but last in the percentage of their shots that have come in the paint (42%).

7. They’ve taken 47.4% of their shots from 3-point range, the highest rate in the playoffs by a healthy margin, and tick higher than their league-high rate in the regular season (47.1%).

8. Jaylen Brown has shot 97-for-149 (65.1%) in the paint, the best mark among 16 players with at least 100 paint attempts and up from 60.7% in the regular season.

9. Payton Pritchard has shot 20-for-44 (45.5%) from 3-point range, the second-best mark among 72 players with at least 25 3-point attempts in the playoffs. Jrue Holiday (15-for-31, 48.4%) and Derrick White (36-for-76, 47.4%) rank second and third in catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage among 45 players with at least 25 catch-and-shoot attempts.

10. Jayson Tatum has shot just 20-for-60 (33.3%) on pull-up 2-pointers, the worst mark among 21 players who’ve attempted at least 25.

Celtics’ defense

11. Boston’s opponents have attempted just 14.5 free throws per 100 shots from the field, which would be the lowest opponent free-throw rate in NBA playoff history. The Celtics’ three opponents have had three of the four lowest free-throw rates in any series in NBA history.

Lowest free-throw rate, playoff series, NBA history

Team Year Opponent FGA FTA FTA/FGA
Cleveland 2024 Boston 433 58 0.134
Golden State 2023 L.A. Lakers 573 80 0.140
Miami 2024 Boston 406 60 0.148
Indiana 2024 Boston 361 56 0.155
Chicago 2022 Milwaukee 451 72 0.160

12. Only 18% of their opponents’ 3-point attempts, the lowest opponent rate in the playoffs, have come from the corners. They also had the lowest opponent rate (21%) in the regular season, when the Mavs were just 4-for-16 from the corners in their two head-to-head meetings.

13. They rank second in defensive rebounding percentage (77.0%) and have allowed just 8.3 second-chance points per game, the fewest for any playoff team in the last seven years.

Mavs efficiency by round

Round Opp. OffRtg Rank AdjO DefRtg Rank AdjD
First round LAC 115.9 7 +1.3 109.5 6 -8.5
Conf. semis OKC 112.0 4 +0.9 111.8 3 -6.5
Conf. finals MIN 118.3 2 +9.9 112.1 1 -2.5

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
AdjO = OffRtg – opponent’s regular-season DefRtg
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
AdjD = DefRtg – opponent’s regular-season OffRtg

Mavs’ offense

14. In the conference semifinals, the Mavs scored 18.5 more points per 100 possessions than the Thunder allowed in the first round. And in the conference finals, they scored 11.7 more than the Wolves allowed in the conference semis. Those were the biggest jumps in each round.

15. The Mavs lead the playoffs with 4.6 corner 3-pointers per game, with 34% of their 3-point attempts (the second-highest rate) coming from the corners. P.J. Washington leads all individuals with 28 corner 3s (five shy of Bruce Bowen’s record of 33 in 2007), while Derrick Jones Jr. is tied for second with 17.

16. They’ve retained 31% of available offensive rebounds, the fourth-highest rate in the playoffs and up from 25.7% (25th) in the regular season. That’s been the biggest jump in offensive rebounding percentage by a wide margin.

17. Luka Doncic (31.3%) and Kyrie Irving (23.5%) rank fourth and 15th in usage rate among 52 players who’ve played at least 250 minutes in the playoffs. Those marks are down from 35.5% (second) and 27.4% in the regular season, with those being the biggest and third biggest drops among those 52 players.

18. Doncic leads the playoffs in both assists on 3-pointers (50) and assists on dunks (49). The 49 assists on dunks are tied (with Draymond Green in 2019; 22 games played) for the most in the 28 postseasons for which we have play-by-play data.

Most assists on dunks, playoffs, since 1997

Player Year GP AST Per game
Luka Doncic 2024 17 49 2.9
Draymond Green 2019 22 49 2.2
Jrue Holiday 2021 23 44 1.9
Trae Young 2021 16 42 2.6
Russell Westbrook 2016 18 40 2.2

Mavs’ defense

19. Dallas opponents have shot just 51.1% in the paint, with that being the third-lowest opponent mark in the playoffs. Opponents have shot just 38-for-84 (45.2%) at the rim when Daniel Gafford has been there to protect it. That’s the best rim protection mark among 17 players who’ve defended at least 50 shots at the rim. Dereck Lively II has the third-best mark (35-for-71, 49.3%).

20. Their lineup with Lively in Gafford’s place has allowed just 98.5 points per 100 possessions, the best mark among the eight lineups that have played at least 100 minutes in these playoffs.

21. Opponents have shot 20-for-68 (29.4%) against Maxi Kleber, with the expected field goal percentage on those shots being 49.0%. That’s the second-biggest differential among 106 players who’ve defended at least 50 shots in the playoffs.

Who’s on the floor

22. Tatum leads the playoffs in cumulative plus-minus, with the Celtics having outscored their opponents by 141 points with him on the floor.

23. The Mavs have been 27.6 points per 100 possessions better with Irving on the floor (plus-8.2) than they’ve been with him off the floor (minus-19.4). That’s the biggest on-off differential among 52 players who’ve played at least 250 minutes in the playoffs.

24. Jones has averaged 31.2 minutes in the playoffs, up from 23.5 in the regular season. That’s the second biggest jump (trailing only that of Josh Hart) among 76 players who’ve played at least eight playoff games. Tim Hardaway Jr. (from 26.8 to 13.0) and Dante Exum (from 19.8 to 13.3) have seen the two biggest drops among those same 76 players.

* * *

John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X. 

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.