Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, June 8: Go deeper on Boston’s Game 1 win

How the Celtics secured a 1-0 Finals lead with defense and poise. Plus, Doris Burke’s historic moment and the best images of Game 1.

Starting 5

When you’re replaying Game 1 highlights with one more sleep until Game 2.


What’s inside today’s edition?

Defensive Numbers: The stats behind Boston’s defensive effort on Luka Doncic

Answering The Bell: The Cs were ready for Dallas’ run with a history of protecting leads

Chasing History: A behind-the-scenes look at Boston’s Game 1 win

Game Changer: The path and meaning of Doris Burke’s historic Finals moment

Through The Lens: Our favorite frames from Game 1 of the Finals


The remaining Finals schedule…

📲 Stay locked in on the NBA App for live coverage as the Mavericks and Celtics meet the media from Boston beginning at 12:30 ET

💦 Caitlin Clark Hits Seven 3s: Clark tied the WNBA rookie record from deep while becoming the second rookie ever to record 30+ pts, 5+ reb, 5+ ast, and 5+ 3s in a game to lead Indy over Washington

🔥 A’ja Wilson Ties Record: Wilson posted her 13th straight 20+ point game, tying Diana Taurasi for the longest streak in WNBA history


In the lead up to Game 1, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was honest about the challenge his team faced defending Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

🗣 “There is no ‘stopping’ them. There is defending them at a high level.”

  • On Thursday, Boston’s defense reached that highest level of any team this postseason – holding the Mavs to a Playoff-low 89 points to win the series opener

And it all began with how they defended Luka Doncic.

  • In addition to leading the NBA in scoring during the regular season (33.9 ppg), Luka ranked second in assists (9.8 apg), creating another 25 ppg for Dallas
  • Add it all up and Luka had his hand in 58.9 of Dallas’ 117.9 ppg this season – essentially half of their points

Boston did not allow Luka to showcase that duality to his game.

  • Yes, they allowed Luka to score 30 points for the ninth time this postseason
  • But they held him to a season-low one assist, generating just two more points than he scored on his own

Boston played Luka one-on-one for much of the night, but mixed up its coverages just enough to not let Luka get comfortable.

  • Double Teams: As the Celtics built their 29-point lead in the 1st half (and rebuilt it back to 20 at the end of the 3rd quarter), they only double-teamed Luka five times. Then, they doubled him four times in his seven 4th-quarter minutes to prevent one final run
  • The Mavs scored just 0.78 points per possession when Luka was doubled, compared to 0.98 on all other possessions
  • Switching: Luka drew a game-high 31 on-ball switches in Game 1, in which Dallas scored 1.12 points per possession compared to 0.88 points per possession without a Luka switch

Boston’s switching led to Luka being defended by Boston’s bigs, which Luka tried to exploit – 15 of his 26 shot attempts came in the 2:12 of matchup time he had against Al Horford and Kristaps Porzingis.

  • Horford held Luka to two points on 1-of-8 shooting (0-of-4 from 3) with one block, while Porzingis allowed 13 pts on 5-of-7 shooting (3-of-4 from 3) to his former teammate
  • Luka’s two primary defenders – Jaylen Brown (7 minutes) and Jrue Holiday (2:15) – combined to allow 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting with two turnovers

By playing Luka one-on-one and staying home on Dallas’ shooters, the Celtics forced the Mavs into historically-low playmaking.

As John Schuhmann noted in his Game 1 film study, Dallas’ 25.7% assist rate was the lowest for any team in any game in the last seven seasons.


A Game Of Runs: Luka Doncic splashed a 3 and nodded toward the Boston crowd as Joe Mazzulla called timeout. Once a 29-point game, Game 1 of the NBA Finals had just become a game.

In just 12 minutes, the Mavs – the only team in the last three postseasons with multiple wins (2) after trailing by 17 or more – had cut the Celtics’ lead down to eight with 4:28 left in the 3rd.

Dallas was on a 35-14 run, and now it was the Cs on their heels.

  • 🗣️ Jaylen Brown: “We just said, just breathe. The game is starting now. Just breathe. This is a moment where our experience shines through. Just breathe, just keep playing basketball.”

Experience ➡️ Answer: The Celtics regained control after the timeout by reeling off a 14-0 run to push the lead back to 22, and Dallas didn’t get within 15 again – providing them a dose of medicine that Boston’s opponents know all too well.

  • Big Leads: The Celtics have led by at least 20 points a league-high 48 times this season (regular season and Playoffs), and have gone 46-2 in those games
  • Handling Business: In those 48 games, their opponent has cut the lead to single digits 12 times, and while Boston lost two of them, they still averaged a 15-point victory margin in those 12 games
  • Playoff Perfect: With the win over Dallas, the Celtics improved to 11-0 this postseason in games they led by double-digits
  • 🗣️ Brown On Protecting Leads: “It’s the humility that at any given moment things can change, things can shift, things can not go in our direction. So, we just gotta take advantage of the moment.”

Stars Shine: Brown and Jayson Tatum scored or assisted on every point amid the 14-0 run – capped by a Brown 3 to go along with his two blocks in that stretch – delivering a knockout blow to seal a Game 1 win.

  • 1-2 Punch In The 3rd: Brown and Tatum have now combined for 45.9% (185/403) of the Celtics 3rd-quarter points in the Playoffs
  • Clutch Gene: The duo has also combined for 49.1% (26/53) of the Celtics’ points in the clutch so far this postseason
  • 🗣️ Tatum on Brown: “Being his teammate for seven years, we’ve been in so many big games. We’ve been in so many big moments, and (he’s) just always been there to answer the call, in those moments especially, on both ends of the floor.”
  • 🗣️ Coach Joe Mazzulla: “It’s the NBA Finals, you’re playing against a great team, and they’re going to make runs … I thought the guys’ poise out of that timeout was big … They’re gonna go on more runs, and we’re gonna have to fight through.”


🗣 “From day one that I walked in here, it’s like a shot of responsibility – that you get to wear those colors proudly, and go out there and play as hard as you can.”

– Kristaps Porzingis ahead of his Finals debut

Take a closer look at the numbers behind KP’s Game 1 eruption.

The latest episode of Chasing History delivers exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of Boston’s Game 1 victory at TD Garden.

The all-access docuseries chronicles the 2024 postseason from the SoFi Play-In Tournament until a new champion is crowned.

Look Back: How the Mavs clinched the West and Celtics won the East to meet in the Finals


Doris Burke said she’s always looked forward, always looked at what was next, and how she could be ready for that next moment.

But Thursday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals forced her to take in the moment directly in front of her — making history as the first woman to serve as a TV analyst for a major U.S. men’s professional championship event.

  • 🗣️ Burke: “My focus is in preparing for the games in front of me. … But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I am sort of mindful that there is something meaningful here, right.
  • “And the meaning for me would be if, in some way, this assignment makes life for women in sports easier or somehow aids in their process, then nothing could be more meaningful.”

Burke’s historic assignment took place 50 miles northeast of Providence College, where she was an All-American PG for the Friars.

While her playing days came to an end, her love of the game endured, leading to a broadcasting career that spanned multiple roles and platforms before landing her on ABC as an analyst on the game’s grandest stage.

  • First Step: After two years as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Burke made the move to the broadcast booth calling Friars games on radio
  • Unexpected Break: When a miscommunication left the Big East Game of the Week between Providence and Pittsburgh with no analyst, Burke’s name was called to step in and fill the role with no prep and 45 minutes notice
  • Barriers Falling: Not only was Burke the first woman to announce a Big East men’s basketball game on TV, she was the first woman to do a NY Knicks game on TV or radio
  • The WNBA: Burke served as the primary radio and TV voice of the New York Liberty before making the move to the NBA
  • ESPN Rise: Burke has excelled in multiple roles while covering the NBA on ESPN and ABC – from joining NBA Countdown, to interviewing players and coaches on the sidelines, to becoming a full-time analyst in 2017

Along the way, Burke has served as a mentor to women in sports broadcasting, elevating the next generation to follow in her footsteps.

Just before she made history on Thursday, Burke was celebrated by host Malika Andrews and the team at ESPN’s NBA Today.

  • 🗣️ Andrews: “DB, so many girls believe that they can, because you did, and thank you for that.”

And once the call was over, JJ Redick congratulated his on-air teammate on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt.

  • 🗣️ Redick: “I just want to say how proud I am of my teammate Doris Burke. … What she did tonight is historic. I am so proud of her. I love you. It is so great working with you.”
  • 🗣️ Burke: “Don’t make me cry.”


Game 1 introductions

Mavs pregame huddle

Luka Doncic vs. Jaylen Brown

Jayson Tatum vs. Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic

Jayson Tatum

Jaylen Brown

Kyrie Irving

Kristaps Porzingis

Jayson Tatum vs. Dereck Lively II