Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, June 11: The NBA Finals arrive in Dallas

Before Game 3 in Dallas, we dive into the evolution of Tatum and Brown, the Celtics defense, the Mavs returning home and more.

Starting 5

Before the Finals resume in Dallas, we jump into the evolution of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.


What’s inside today’s edition? 

Evolving Jays: How Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown continue to grow their games

Cs defense: The NBA’s 2nd-ranked defense has locked down Dallas through two games

Headed home: Will a change of venue help the Mavs break through in the Finals?

Chasing History: An all-access look at the Celtics’ Game 2 win in Boston

Game 2 frames: Some of our favorite photos from Sunday’s Game 2


The remaining Finals schedule …

Today, tap into the NBA App for a full day of hoops coverage:

8 a.m. ET: NBA Play Expert Mode tests your playoff triple-doubles knowledge

1:30 p.m. ET: Mavs and Celtics Media Day streams live from Dallas

7 ET: The Game 3 Countdown Stream tips off, celebrating anniversaries – MJ’s 1997 Game 5, Dallas’ 2011 clincher and Boston’s 2008 comeback – as well as classic Game 3s from KD, LeBron, Kobe & Shaq and more


8:30 ET, ABC: The 2024 Finals resume with Game 3 in Dallas


Only 84 players in NBA history have played at least 4,000 playoff minutes

  • Two of them are adding to that total in this year’s Finals – Jayson Tatum (4,290 minutes in 110 games) and Jaylen Brown (4,009 in 121 games)
  • It’s easy to forget that Tatum (26 years, 100 days) and Brown (27 years, 231 days) are still in their mid-20s considering they’ve been on the playoff stage since they entered the league
  • They both toe the line of having an abundance of experience, while still growing and evolving their game. And that growth has been evident throughout a playoff run that has them two wins away from their first title

Jayson Tatum continually draws the defense and finds the open man as Boston comes within 2 victories of its 18th NBA championship.

The Playmaker: Tatum is finding a way to contribute to Boston’s winning when his usual method is off track.

  • Tatum averaged 30.3 ppg on 46.3% shooting in Boston’s East Finals sweep of Indy – only Luka (32.4) averaged more in the Conference Finals. But Tatum’s shot has evaded him through the first two games of the Finals – averaging 17 ppg on 31.6% shooting
  • While he ranks fourth in scoring in the Finals, he’s first in assists (8.5 per game), which have created 20 ppg for Boston
  • 🗣️Tatum: “We’re so close to what we’re trying to accomplish, why would I let my ego or my need to score all the points get in the way of that…
  • “We always talk about do whatever it takes for however long it takes. If I need to have 16 potential assists every single night and that’s what puts us in the best position to win and it doesn’t mean I’m the leading scorer, by all means. If that gives us the best chance to win, sign me up.”
  • 🗣️Mazzulla: “Where he’s grown over the last two years is to take what the defenses give him and learn to impact the game in many different ways.”

The Two-Way Star: Brown leads Boston in scoring (21.5 ppg on 55.6% shooting) and steals (3.0 spg), and ranks second in assists (4.5 apg) and blocks (1.5 bpg) in the Finals.

  • Game-Sealing Sequence: With the Celtics clinging to a five-point lead in the final minute, the Mavs had a fast break with P.J. Washington going to the basket for a dunk
  • Derrick White and Brown never gave up on the play and chased him down for the block with White making initial contact and Brown wiping it away
  • On the other end, Brown sealed the win with the final bucket of the night. And he got it by doing something that just a year ago, he’d seen as an area to develop: by going left
  • 🗣️Tatum: “When you look at JB, he’s somebody that has really worked on his craft year after year to just become a better player. … And I’ve seen it, I’ve seen the work that he puts in and watching film and things like that. So it’s special to see when guys put in the work and it translates to on the court.”
  • When the final buzzer sounded, Brown took a moment on the court to take it all in as he and the Celtics are now just two wins from their goal


When a team holds the best regular season offensive rating (122.2) since the stat came into existence in 1997-98, it can be easy to focus on that side of the ball.

But don’t sleep on the Celtics’ defense.

Boston finished second in defensive rating (110.6) this season, trailing only the Minnesota Timberwolves, and led the NBA in blocks (6.6 per game).

  • 🗣️ Tatum On Boston’s Defensive Pride: “What makes our team really special is we don’t have guys that we hide on defense. Bigs and guards, we switch, we take on the challenge of individual defense …
  • “If you want to play on our team you have to be able to guard, and everybody knows that.”

Boston’s defense has only gotten stingier in the playoffs (107.6) and has been in lockdown mode through the first two games of the Finals (100.0).

  • Boston has held Dallas under 100 points in each of the first two games with an average score of 93.5 ppg – 14.4 points lower than their playoff average entering the Finals
  • Boston has held Dallas to 44.5% shooting overall and 24.5% from 3 – those marks are 2.6% and 12.7% lower, respectively, than their playoff percentages entering the Finals

The Celtics’ ability to play the Mavs one-on-one defensively and not rely on blitzes and constant double teams against playmakers like Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving has been a game changer.

It allows the Celtics to stay home on shooters and cutters and avoid being in scramble mode to try to contest an open shot.

  • Uncontested Shots: 35.4% of Dallas’ shots entering the Finals were either open or wide-open 3s – meaning no defender was within four feet of the shooter. In the Finals, that percentage has dropped to 28.6%
  • No Dunk Zone: Dallas averaged 6.9 dunks entering the Finals, with 3.2 coming on alley-oops. In the Finals, those averages have dropped to 4.5 dunks and 1.0 alley-oop per game

Jaylen Brown thinks there’s still room for improvement after Game 2.

  • 🗣️ Brown: “We weren’t as crisp defensively. A lot of missed communications out there, a lot of stuff that we gave up that we didn’t give up in the first game. So I think we got to be better in that regard.
  • “But I just think our effort has been the key, just the mentality, picking a guy up full court, stuff like that. It just wears on them over time. But I think we need to be more crisp going into the next two games.”


The Mavericks got a 30-point triple-double from Luka Doncic and held the high-powered Boston offense in check most of the night, but were unable to get the win on the road.

The series now shifts to Dallas for the next two games – Game 3 on Wednesday and Game 4 on Friday. The Mavs aren’t just facing the Celtics, now they’re facing history.

  • First Step: Dallas is the 37th team to go down 2-0 in the NBA Finals. And they’ll try to be the 23rd team to win Game 3 to get back in the series. In Finals history, teams down 2-0 have won Game 3 61.1% of the time
  • Five teams have rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to win the NBA Finals — the 1969 Celtics, 1977 Blazers, 2006 Heat, 2016 Cavs and 2021 Bucks — and it all started with a win in Game 3
  • In 156 tries, no team in NBA history has rallied back from a 3-0 deficit. Not just in the Finals, either — in any round of the playoffs

🗣️ Mavs Coach Jason Kidd: “We’ve got to protect home, and that’s it. We’ve got to find a way. Continue, again, to build on our defense. Our defense put us in a position to win [Sunday]. Unfortunately, our offense didn’t help us.”

While Luka has averaged 31 points – and is coming off becoming the youngest player in Finals history to post a 30-point triple-double – only three other Mavs are averaging 10+ points in the series: P.J. Washington (15.5), Kyrie (14.0) and Daniel Gafford (10.5).

After the Celtics take a 2-0 lead in the 2024 NBA Finals, Shaq feels the Mavericks have to muster the belief to come from behind.

Can the change in venue be the spark needed for the Mavs to get going? It’s often said that role players shoot better at home – and so far this postseason that bears out for the Mavs.

See their home vs. road splits for all players not named Luka or Kyrie.

  • Home: 48.6% shooting from the field, 38% from 3-point range
  • Road: 46.1% from the field, 34.7% from 3

🗣️ Kidd: “We’ve counted on [our young players] all year, not just here in the Finals, but throughout the season and [playoffs]. And for them, it’s just a matter of getting comfortable and going back home. Hopefully that will help.”

Dallas will need contributions from up and down the roster as they try to do something that hasn’t been done all season – hand the Celtics four losses in a five-game span.

  • Boston has not lost more than two games in any five-game stretch during the regular season or playoffs
  • Seven teams have played Boston in consecutive games – Cavs, Magic, Nets, Pacers and Hawks in the regular season; Heat, Cavs, Pacers and Mavs in the playoffs – only the Hawks won two straight over the Celtics


Jrue Holiday leads all Celtics with 26 points and Derrick White makes a crucial chasedown block to seal Boston's Game 2 win.

🗣️ ”It’s nervous energy, it’s anxious energy, but it’s a good energy. You’re in the Garden baby. You’re in the Garden. This is where we want to be – in the Finals, Game 2. Let’s go!”

– Celtics legend and 2008 NBA Finals MVP Paul Pierce

The latest episode of Chasing History delivers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Boston’s Game 2 win on Sunday.

Witness Luka Doncic’s sensational start, Jrue Holiday’s big night, Jayson Tatum’s dimes, Jaylen Brown mic’d up, Dallas’ late rally and Derrick White’s clutch chasedown block – along with sights and sounds from TD Garden before and after the game.