Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, June 2: NBA Finals: Star duo spotlight

How Doncic & Irving quarterback the Mavs. How Brown & Tatum merge their differing styles for success.

Starting 5

When you’re four sleeps from your fourth Finals appearance.


The Floor Generals: How Luka & Kyrie complement one another and lead Dallas

The Jays: Two players with similar stories, different styles and the same goal

What They’re Saying: The Cs met with the media to discuss Dallas and the Finals

Celebration GIFs: Look back at some of the best celebrations from the Playoffs

Mavs’ Finals Path: A dozen GIFs for the Mavs’ 12 wins to reach the Finals


Today: Watch a live stream of every game from the 2011 Finals — when the Mavs claimed their only title in franchise history — as the NBA App counts down til NBA Finals tip off June 6 on ABC (8:30 ET).

NBA Play: As we anticipate Game 1, test your NBA Finals knowledge:


“There’s a debate out there: ‘Is this the best backcourt in NBA history?’” said Mavs coach Jason Kidd. “It’s kinda cool.”

Kidd’s embraced the buzz surrounding Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving during their run through the West Finals, using the term “quarterbacks” to describe Dallas’ dynamic duo. | Luka’s Best Of Year | Kyrie’s Best

  • Kidd: “When you talk about maturity, skill set, they fit. Kai’s been around the block, he’s been with great players, he doesn’t mind being second or 1-B. You just don’t find that a lot of times in this league.
  • “Understanding that he will show when he needs to show, and he’s done that with Luka this season.”

In just 84 games together since Irving joined the Mavs at the 2023 trade deadline, Kyrie and Luka have developed an on-court chemistry that makes it look like they’ve been playing together their entire careers.

Beyond “Your Turn, My Turn”: The pair have filled in the gaps for the other in order to expand and diversify the offense.

For example, in the Playoffs, Luka’s split between 3-point attempts (43.6%) and paint attempts (37.8%) is nearly flipped by Kyrie, with 46.5% of his shots coming in the paint compared to 35.7% from deep.

Look at the open spaces in made buckets from Kyrie and Luka’s individual shot charts above. Then look at the lack of open space when they are combined below.

While they only have five combined corner 3s (all from Kyrie), there is another layer to add to this picture – how they distribute to athletes & high flyers like P.J. Washington, Derrick Jones Jr., Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II.

  • Of Luka’s 150 assists entering the Finals, 31 have come on corner 3s and another 35 have come on alley-oops
  • Of Kyrie’s 88 assists entering the Finals, 15 are corner 3s and another 10 are alley-oops
  • Luka and Kyrie may not shoot much from the corners, but they’ve combined to set up 46 of Dallas’ 78 corner 3s

Another benefit of having two floor generals on the court together is that it lightens the burden on both to carry the offense by themselves.

  • Luka’s usage rate rose in his first three Playoff appearances – 36.5% in 2020, 39.1% in 2021 and 39.6% in 2022.
  • This year? Down to 31.3%
  • Kidd On Kyrie’s Impact: “He’s making the game easy for Luka but also for the others on the floor.”


With the 3rd Pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, the Celtics selected Jaylen Brown — a 19-year-old wing out of Cal.

With the 3rd Pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, the Celtics selected Jayson Tatum — a 19-year-old wing out of Duke.

Since the beginning, Tatum and Brown’s careers intertwined. Even the first three letters of their names align. But the Jays’ playing styles and personalities differ.

  • 🗣️ Brown: “I think when me and Tatum came in, we had similar situations, but we’re kind of polar opposites. Even in the game, I’m more aggressive. Tatum’s more laid back… But in a weird way, it works. Because we each lack what the other has.”
  • 🗣️ Tatum: “Over the last few years, we’ve taken strides of co-existing together, getting the best out of each other, while being the best version of ourselves.”
  • 🗣️ Coach Joe Mazzulla: “They’re two completely different people. They’re two completely different players. They’re great teammates. They love each other… They go about winning, and they go about their process in a different way.”

Balance Of Opposites: In their seven seasons playing together, Tatum and Brown’s contrasting styles have blossomed into a deadly 1-2 punch that ranks among the best in Celtics and NBA history. | Tatum’s Best Of Year | Brown’s Best

  • Elite Company: Tatum and Brown are tied with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale for the most 25+ point Playoff games as a duo in franchise history with 17 — the Celtics are 14-3 in those games
  • 2K Club: Tatum and Brown are just the 5th set of teammates to each total 2,000+ Playoff points this century
  • 30-Piece Pairings: Tatum and Brown are just the eighth duo in NBA history to each score 30+ points in a game more than 25 times (27)
  • ECF Vets: Tatum and Brown are the 10th and 11th players over the last 40 years to make the Conference Finals in five of their first seven seasons

Put A Ring On It: Tatum and Brown — who have never missed the Playoffs and are now playing in their second NBA Finals — have carved their names into Celtics lore as a duo while maturing as individuals. But capturing Boston’s 18th title is their ultimate goal.

  • 🗣️ Brown: “I’ve seen him grow as a man. He’s seen me grow as a man… Only thing that would put the ribbon on top is getting a championship.”
  • 🗣️ Tatum: “I think it’s part of just getting older and maturing. [We’re] both still relatively young guys. Understanding that this is our time and we need to take full advantage of it.”


Boston’s Break: The Celtics met with the media Saturday to discuss the Finals, which begins Thursday — 10 days after their last game.

Staying Sharp: The East Champs — who eliminated all three of their Playoff opponents in five games or less — remain hungry amid another long break between series.

  • 🗣️ Joe Mazzulla On The Time Off: “Like relaxing getting out of a fight. You let your emotional guard down, and you just gotta keep those things up… Do everything you can to make sure the guys stay in the fight.”
  • 🗣️ Derrick White On The Time Off: “This is a long one. But the stuff that we did in the earlier rounds definitely will help us to mentally prepare. We know what to do with the time off… We talked all year about not skipping steps, and it’s no different now.”

Taking It In: While Jayson Tatum is making his second Finals appearance, White is making his first. But both players are soaking in the big stage and its gravity.

  • 🗣️Tatum On His 2nd Finals: “There’s a lot that we can learn from that experience… You don’t always get a second chance. (We’re) trying to simplify things — it’s another series that we gotta win.”

Containing Kyrie & Luka (Part II): For a second straight day, the Celtics harped on their respect for Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving — the latter of whom played for Boston from 2017 to 2019.

  • 🗣️ Mazzulla on Kyrie and Luka: “There is no ‘stopping’ them. There is defending them at a high level, and there’s playing a complete game because every part of the game is connected.”
  • 🗣️ White On Guarding Kyrie & Luka: “That’s the fun thing about being a guard in the NBA; every night it’s somebody different, and obviously Kyrie and Luka are at the top of that list.”
  • 🗣️ Tatum On Playing With Kyrie: “He’s one of the most talented guys I’ve ever seen… I have a lot of great memories from having Kai as a teammate.”


To help get you ready in the lead-up to Thursday, we’re counting down the days in one of our favorite ways: with 🔥 GIFs.


The story of how the Western Conference champs got here … followed by pure vibes in Section 5.

First Round vs. Clippers: After going down 0-1, Luka wouldn’t let his team go down 0-2, knocking down the dagger three to power his team to the win

First Round vs. Clippers: Following up Luka’s shot last game, Kyrie uses a series of moves to find room for the dagger jumper to give the Mavs the 2-1 series lead 

First Round vs. Clippers: Daniel Gafford opened Game 6 against the Clippers with this huge slam in the first half…

First Round vs. Clippers: …and Kyrie Irving closed out Game 6 – and the series – with this ridiculous 3 as the Mavs rolled past the Clippers

West Semis vs. Thunder: After going down 0-1 for the second series in a row, Luka again knocks down the clutch jumper to even the series 1-1

West Semis vs. Thunder: Repeating their pattern from the first series, Kyrie follows up Luka’s clutch jumper in Game 2 with a highly-skilled clutch floater to seal Game 3 for the Mavs 

West Semis vs. Thunder: P.J. Washington’s two clutch treys and three clutch free throws ended the series in Game 6, moving the Mavs on to the Finals

West Finals vs. Timberwolves: After a tightly contested Game 1 in Minnesota, Game 2 also came down to the wire, allowing Luka to deliver a game-winner and a 2-0 Mavs series lead

West Finals vs. Timberwolves: As Game 3 again came down to the wire, Luka this time provided the dime to Daniel Gafford as the Mavs took the 3-0 series lead

West Finals vs. Timberwolves: In Game 4, the Mavs only loss in the Conference Finals, Luka threw this fastbreak lob that had Kevin Harlan yelling “we just saw a man fly!”

West Finals vs. Timberwolves: In Game 5, with an opportunity to go to the Finals, Luka set the tone early. He tallied 20 1st quarter points, including a ridiculous logo pull up three 

West Finals vs. Timberwolves: Luka and Kyrie stand together, headed to their first NBA Finals as teammates


Sunday Funday!

To get the vibes right, spin through a few of our favorite reactions from both teams’ Finals runs, as we head into the first week of June … aka Finals season.

P.J. Washington struck his signature pose after Dallas eliminated OKC in the West Semis

The ageless Al Horford, fired up after yet another clutch postseason 3.

Luka Doncic & Dereck Lively II celebrate Luka’s game-winning 3 in Game 2 of the West Finals

D-White’s feeling it … And the bench goes wild.

Eyes on the prize.

When you’re waiting for Finals Game 1 to load …