Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, June 6: What to know as NBA Finals begin

The Celtics and Mavericks open the 2024 NBA Finals tonight in Boston. Here's everything you need to know before tipoff.

Starting 5Here. We. Gooooooo.

Finals Game 1 tips tonight.


THE LINEUP 🏀

What’s inside today’s edition? 

Game 1 in 1 minute: Everything you need to know before the 2024 Finals tip-off

Celtics Media Day: Hear from Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jrue Holiday & Joe Mazzulla

Mavs Media Day: Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Daniel Gafford & Jason Kidd meet with the press

On the ground: Behind the scenes in Boston & a Starting 5-only interview with Finals correspondent Jabari Smith Jr.

Best of Game 1s: Look back at the top plays and moments from Game 1s of past Finals


BUT FIRST … ⏰

Just hours left til the NBA Finals …

🏆 Game 1 Tonight: The chase for the Larry O’Brien Trophy tips tonight in Boston (8:30 ET, ABC)

📝 Finals Checklist: Need to get ready for Finals Game 1? We made this checklist for you.

🎤 Mic’d Up: Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Boston’s Jayson Tatum will be mic’d up for Game 1

🏀 A’ja Did What?! A’ja Wilson dropped the 1st 35+ pts, 10+ reb, 5+ stl game in WNBA history


1. GAME 1 IN 1 MINUTE

Today’s the day.

Mavs. Celtics. Game 1 of the NBA Finals (8:30 ET, ABC).

Find everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s tip-off below – and welcome to the biggest stage in basketball.

  • New Champ, Same Trend: A different NBA champion will be crowned for the sixth straight season
  • Keen On 18: The Celtics – who finished the regular season with the league’s best record (64-18) – are seeking their 18th title, which would break a tie with the Lakers for the most in NBA history
  • Kidd’s Quest: Dallas head coach Jason Kidd will look to lead the Mavs to their second NBA title, 13 years after helping them win their first as a player
  • High Five: The Mavs are also attempting to become the first No. 5 seed to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy
  • Dynamic Duos: Both teams have a pair of multi-time All-Stars averaging 50+ combined points this postseason in Dallas’ Kyrie Irving (22.8 ppg) – who played two seasons with the Celtics – and Luka Doncic (28.8), and Boston’s Jayson Tatum (26.0) and Jaylen Brown (25.0)
  • First Team, First Title: Doncic and Tatum – two five-time All-Stars and 2023-24 Kia All-NBA First Team members – are each seeking their first title, along with Brown (Irving won in 2016 with the Cavs)

NBA Finals Epicenter


2. CELTICS MEDIA DAY

Focus.

The Celtics – who will be at full strength tonight with Kristaps Porzingis off the injury report – preached focus the day before Game 1 of the Finals.

  • 🗣️ Jayson Tatum On His Mindset: “I think right now, just staying present in the moment. I’m not thinking about my legacy or anything like that, just excited to play some basketball.”
  • 🗣️ Coach Joe Mazzulla On Staying In The Moment: “Unless they change the lightbulbs in the arena, they won’t be any brighter than last series … obviously, the stakes are higher, but that just means the details are more important.”

Two years ago, Mazzulla was a Boston assistant when the Cs fell to the Warriors in the 2022 Finals. Now, it’s Mazzulla’s team – and he and his players feel they’ve grown from the loss.

  • 🗣️ Mazzulla On Learning From Finals Loss: “I think the biggest thing you learn is what goes into winning in the NBA Finals … the toughest team will win.”
  • 🗣️ Tatum: “I’m a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’ … I do feel a lot different this time … I’m excited for the opportunity for us to get the job done.”
  • 🗣️ Jaylen Brown: “You learn and grow from your experiences … We’ve got a different team, a different coach. Two years later makes a pretty big difference.”

Championship DNA: Jrue Holiday – who won the 2021 NBA Finals with the Bucks – was not on that 2022 Celtics team, but believes this year’s squad has what it takes to finish the job, and Brown agrees.

  • 🗣️ Holiday On What Makes This Team Special: “It’s just the will to win. This team really wants to win … They’ve been to the Finals. So, they’ve been to the top … Now that we’re here, we want to get the job done.”
  • 🗣️ Brown:I think this is a special group, I really do… the ultimate goal is to get over the hump and win … but as of right now that story is still untold.”

Holiday put a wrap on Celtics Media Day with a laugh, offering a simple, one-word answer on how to stop Kyrie Irving.


3. MAVS MEDIA DAY

No player in this series has more Finals experience than Kyrie Irving, who is set to begin his fourth Finals. The Mavs have leaned on the veteran guard as they prepare for Game 1.

  • 🗣️ Luka Doncic: “Me and Kyrie are the leaders of this team, but he’s the one that’s been in the Finals. He’s the one that won in the Finals. He’s the one that is really leading it. He’s keeping us all together and motivated.”
  • 🗣️ P.J. Washington: “He’s done a great job of keeping us cool, calm and collected. … Just telling us to feel every emotion, come out and be ourselves.”
  • 🗣️ Kyrie On His Message: “These young guys are very hungry. They want a championship. I want a championship. So our feelings are very mutual. But I’ve always reminded them that this is a process.
  • “Failure is going to be part of this, too. Get it out of your mind that this is about to be a clean sweep or everything is about to feel good throughout this journey and all that. I’m just very real, very honest.”

  • Jason Kidd On Luka’s Basketball IQ: “I think he’s one of the smartest players in this league. That’s why we’re playing in the Finals, because of his IQ and his willingness to step up on that stage and not be afraid to fail.”

Full Circle Moment: The Wizards were headed to Boston when Daniel Gafford got the call that he had been traded to Dallas. Four months later, Gafford’s in Boston with his new team in the Finals.

  • 🗣️ Gafford On Being Traded: “I just took this as a point, one door closed, another door opened for me. So this is another opportunity for me to progress throughout my career.”
  • 🗣️ Washington On His Fit With Dallas: “For me, I just thought it was a great fit for me to come here and showcase what I can do.”
  • 🗣️ Luka On Gafford and Washington: “The trade made us a much better team, especially on the defensive end. So, they’re in the perfect roles that we need.”

4. ON THE GROUND AT THE FINALS

The Finals buzz is palpable, and a rising NBA star put boots on the ground at Media Day for exclusive coverage to NBA social and digital platforms.

Jabari Smith Jr. – the 3rd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft – serves as the Finals Game 1 Player Correspondent. But before getting firsthand advice from Jayson Tatum, the Rockets forward sat down with us to share his thoughts on the series, exclusively for the Starting 5 fam.

  • 🗣️ What He’s Looking Forward To Most: “Just to see the matchups of Luka and Jayson Tatum and Kyrie, Jaylen Brown… I feel like it’s a lot of pressure on both sides, and I just can’t wait to see.”
  • 🗣️ Who He’s Rooting For: “I’m not going for nobody. I’m just watching good basketball – hopefully, seven games. So, I’m excited.”
  • 🗣️ Switching Onto Luka & Kyrie As A Big: “It’s tough… [There’s] not really any shot that you want to live with with players like that. So, you just gotta try to make it tough and make them work.”
  • 🗣️ What Impresses Him About Dereck Lively II: “Just how early he figured it out. I forget sometimes that he’s a rookie … He’s really, really picking it up fast and it’s great to see that.”

The Best Of Media Day: The action didn’t stop with Jabari. Content Creator Tristan Jass added to the day’s excitement by joining him as a correspondent.


5. FINALS GAME 1s BEST MOMENTS

Before the Celtics and Mavs begin their own Finals story, we look back at some of the best moments, shots and performances from Game 1s of past NBA Finals. | Top Game 1 Plays: Before 2000 | Since 2000

1992: Michael Jordan caught fire from deep, draining a then-record six 3s in the 1st half against Portland. A 27% 3-point shooter that season, Jordan could only shrug as the 3s continued to fall.

1992: Michael Jordan caught fire from deep, draining a then-record six 3s in the 1st half against Portland. A 27% 3-point shooter that season, Jordan could only shrug as the 3s continued to fall.

1995: Houston's Kenny Smith hit the clutch 3 to force overtime before Hakeem Olajuwon won the game with a tip-in with 0.3 seconds left in OT. | Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

1995: Houston’s Kenny Smith hit the clutch 3 to force overtime before Hakeem Olajuwon won the game with a tip-in with 0.3 seconds left in OT.

1981: Larry Bird showed off his instincts for the game as he rebounded his own miss, pulled off a midair hand switch and scored in one smooth movement to help Boston beat Houston 98-95.

1981: Larry Bird showed off his instincts for the game as he rebounded his own miss, pulled off a midair hand switch and scored in one smooth movement to help Boston beat Houston 98-95.

2002: Kobe Bryant dunked over Todd MacCulloch for two of his 22 points in the Lakers’ 99-94 win. Peep current Mavs coach and then Nets PG Jason Kidd in the background.

2002: Kobe Bryant dunked over Todd MacCulloch for two of his 22 points in the Lakers’ 99-94 win. Peep current Mavs coach and then Nets PG Jason Kidd in the background.

2001: Isolated against Tyronn Lue in the corner, Allen Iverson used his signature crossover to create space for the game-sealing jumper with Lue falling at Iverson’s feet and AI pulling the Stepover on the way back.

2001: Isolated against Tyronn Lue in the corner, Allen Iverson used his signature crossover to create space for the game-sealing jumper with Lue falling at Iverson’s feet and AI pulling the Stepover on the way back.

1997: Michael Jordan hit the game-winning shot in Chicago’s 84-82 win over Utah. It is the latest game-winning shot at the buzzer in a Finals game.

1997: Michael Jordan hit the game-winning shot in Chicago’s 84-82 win over Utah. It is the latest game-winning shot at the buzzer in a Finals game.

2018: Steph Curry beat the halftime buzzer with a 38-foot triple – and counted out the points before heading to the locker room. Golden State needed every point in this OT classic because …

2018: Steph Curry beat the halftime buzzer with a 38-foot triple – and counted out the points before heading to the locker room. Golden State needed every point in this OT classic because …

2018: …LeBron James (51 pts, 8 reb, 8 ast) had a game for the ages – scoring the second-most points in a Finals Game 1 (Jerry West: 53 in 1969) – in Cleveland’s OT loss to Golden State.

2018: … LeBron James (51 pts, 8 reb, 8 ast) had a game for the ages – scoring the second-most points in a Finals Game 1 (Jerry West: 53 in 1969) – in Cleveland’s OT loss to Golden State.

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