Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, June 9: NBA Finals Game 2 just hours away

Everything you need to know ahead of tonight’s 8 ET tip. The stakes, the adjustments, the sights and sounds from practice and more.

Starting 5

Jayson Tatum is fired up for Game 2.

And so are we.

Let’s get you ready for tip off.


What’s inside today’s edition?

Game 2 In 1 Minute: Everything you need to know before tonight’s tip-off

Familiar Territory: Dallas faces a 1-0 deficit for the third time this Playoffs

Ready For Response: Boston prepares to get Dallas’ best shot in Game 2

On The Ground: The Thompson Twins break down the matchup and take in media day

Best Of Game 2s: Look back at the top moments from Game 2s of past Finals


Just hours left until Game 2 of the Finals …

The countdown to Game 2 is live on the NBA App. Lock in for a full day of coverage leading up to Game 2 from TD Garden (8 ET, ABC).


The Stakes: Will the Celtics win their ninth-straight game to take a 2-0 series lead or will the Mavs remain unbeaten in Game 2s and return to Dallas with the series tied?

Game 2 of the NBA Finals (8 ET, ABC) is just hours away, and we have everything you need to know in one minute.

What It Means

  • Teams that win Game 1 of the NBA Finals at home have gone on to win the series 78.0% of the time (46-13)
  • Teams that win Games 1 and 2 of the Finals have gone on to win the series 86.1% of the time (31-5)
  • However, teams that win the first two games of the Finals at home have gone on to win the series 84.4% of the time (27-5)
  • Teams that win Game 2 of the Finals have won the series 63.6% of the time (49-28)
  • Teams that lose Game 1 of the Finals have won Game 2 53.2% of the time (41-36)

How Each Team Performs in Game 2s

  • The Celtics are 3-0 in Game 1s this postseason but 1-2 in Games 2s with losses against the Heat and Cavs – all of which have been at home
  • In those three Game 2s, Boston has allowed 113.0 points per game compared to its 100.5 Playoff average
  • The Mavericks are 1-2 in Game 1s this postseason, with losses to the Clippers and Thunder, but 3-0 in Game 2s – all of which have come on the road
  • In those three Game 2s, Dallas averages 23.7 assists per game compared to their 21.7 Playoff average

2 Things To Watch For In Game 2

1. Mavs Ball Movement

  • Assists: The Celtics limited the Mavs to only nine assists in Game 1, their fewest in over two years (May 10, 2022) and 13.4 fewer than their Playoff average (22.4) entering the Finals
  • Beyond Missed Shots: Dallas shot 35-84 (41.7%) from the field and 7-27 (25.9%) from 3 in Game 1, which led to a lack of assists, but they also only made 203 total passes compared to their 248.4 this postseason
  • Limited Opportunities: Dallas also only had 25 potential assists (passes that result in an assist if the shot is made), nearly 14 fewer than their postseason average of 38.9
  • 🗣️ Mavs Coach Jason Kidd: “We’ve got to move the ball. The ball just stuck too much. And we’ll be better in Game 2.”

2. Luka Magic

  • A Class Of His Own: Luka Doncic has the highest points average (33.9) in Game 2s in NBA history (min. five Game 2s played)
  • Legendary Company: Michael Jordan (33.3) and Jerry West (31.3) are the only other players with Game 2 averages over 30 points
  • Dallas Dubs: In Luka’s seven career Game 2s, the Mavs have a 5-2 record
  • Luka’s Game 2 Splits: In addition to his 33.9 points per game, Doncic is averaging 8.3 assists and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 50.3% from the field and hitting 4.9 3s per game at 46.6% a clip


“There’s no panic with this group,” said Jason Kidd during Saturday’s media session. “We lost Game 1 a lot of times, and we’ve responded, and so we believe that we can respond in Game 2.”

Been Here Before: Dallas dropped Game 1 against both the Clippers and Thunder earlier this postseason and answered each time with Game 2 wins. Now, in the NBA Finals, they’ll try to do it again.

The key? A better start.

  • 🗣️ Luka Doncic: “We gotta be better with our energy, especially from the start.”
  • 🗣️ Kidd: “We didn’t have a really good 1st quarter there … it was very similar to the way the Playoffs started for us with the Clippers … but we responded in Game 2 – on the road.”
  • 🗣️ Kyrie Irving: “We knew they were going to come out with a lot of verve, a lot of energy … (we) just gotta calm our nerves a little bit.”

New Stage: Irving is one of just three Mavs to have played in a Finals game before Thursday’s opener, which saw the Celtics jump out to a 37-20 lead in the 1st quarter. But with Game 1 under its belt, Irving believes Dallas will be looser tonight.

  • 🗣️ Kyrie: “It was our first time being together as a group in this Finals stage … Going out there, TD Garden, playing against the Boston Celtics, who are having a historic season …
  • “We got all that experience in Game 1, and we’re looking for the challenge in Game 2 to play better … just having fun and doing it.”

Luka Staying Loose: Having fun wasn’t a problem for Luka Doncic on Saturday, who was making mischief at practice and cracking jokes during his press conference – giving a glimpse of how he’s dealt with the pressure of his first Finals.

  • 🗣️ Luka:I just try to have fun. That’s the game I love. That’s the game that gets me paid and (there’s) nothing better in the world than playing basketball.”


In Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals, the Celtics beat the Warriors by double digits to take a 1-0 series lead. Boston lost Game 2 by 19 points, and Golden State won the series in six games.

In Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals, the Celtics beat the Mavericks by double digits to take a 1-0 series lead.

Entering tonight’s affair – against a Mavs team that’s unbeaten in Game 2s and hasn’t lost back-to-back games all postseason – Boston expects Dallas’ best.

  • 🗣️ Jayson Tatum: “We understand that they’re going to play a lot better. We have to be prepared for that and not let it catch us off guard.”
  • 🗣️ Jaylen Brown: “Dallas is a really good team, and they respond very well to Game 1 losses… so we’re gonna get a forceful and more aggressive team tomorrow night. We got to be ready.”

A Complete Effort: By saying ‘we,’ Brown wasn’t just referring to himself and his teammates – he was talking to all of Celtics Nation, especially those attending the game at TD Garden, which he hopes will be even louder tonight than it was for Game 1.

  • 🗣️ Brown: “I thought the crowd was good. I think we can be a little bit better, so I expect us to be even louder. Sunday, we’re going to need our fans to be hype.”

No ‘I’ In Team: Jason Kidd made headlines during Dallas’ media session by saying Brown was the Celtics’ best player, leading to several questions for Brown and Tatum. But the Jays are just focused on winning a ring.

  • 🗣️ Tatum: “This is a team sport … we understand that people try to drive a wedge in between us … we’re not the first duo to go through that process, and we won’t be the last … (we’re) just focusing on the job in front of us.”
  • 🗣️ Brown: “Right now, at this point, it’s whatever it takes to win, and we can’t let any outside interpretation try to get in between us.”


Ausar and Amen Thompson – the Detroit and Houston forwards, respectively, who just completed their rookie seasons – are in Boston as NBA correspondents for Game 2 of the Finals.

Before participating in media day – getting some great advice from Kyrie Irving and talking with fellow rook Dereck Lively II – they sat down with us to discuss this matchup.

  • 🗣 Amen On What Stood Out In Game 1: “Strategy-wise, [the Celtics] were more worried about the role players scoring than Luka really, because Luka’s gonna score regardless.”
  • 🗣 Ausar On Porzingis’ Impact: “I don’t know what Dallas’ answer is gonna be. He’s so tall, you can’t really block his shot, you just gotta make him uncomfortable and just get a hand there and, you know, hope he misses.”
  • 🗣 Amen On Defending Luka & Kyrie: “It’s fun matching up against them. It’s something you think about your whole life. So once you get there, it’s like you take that challenge.”
  • 🗣 Ausar On What Makes Boston Special: “It’s honestly crazy, every person you guard could shoot, every person you guard is good and they could score on their own. So it’s like every play you have to be on your A game.”

Jaylen Brown saw a bit of himself when seeing young players like the Thompson twins and Jabari Smith Jr. at the Finals the past few days.

More Sights & Sounds From Media Day and Practice


Before tonight’s Game 2, we look back at some of the best moments, shots and performances from Game 2s of past NBA Finals.

Top Game 2 Plays: Before 2000 | Since 2000

1991: The shot and the call of this “spectacular move by Michael Jordan” are famous as MJ pulled off the mid-air hand switch to finish the lefty layup.

2013: LeBron James met Tiago Splitter at the rim to reject his dunk attempt, one of three blocks for LeBron to help Miami even the series.

2009: The chemistry between Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant was on full display, with a simple head nod needed to set up this clutch and-1 against Orlando.

2018: Steph Curry beat the shot clock with this 28-foot turnaround 3 over Kevin Love for his seventh of a Finals record nine 3s in the win.

1990: Clyde Drexler took to the sky as Portland evened the series with a 106-105 OT victory, snapping Detroit’s 14-game home Playoff win streak.

2011: Dirk Nowitzki hit the game-winning layup to cap off a 22-5 Dallas run to tie the series with Miami and change the course of that Finals.

2001: Kobe with the drive, spin and wraparound pass to Shaq for the slam – part of a monster game for O’Neal (28 pts, 20 reb, 9 ast, 8 blk) that has never been matched in Playoff history.

2019: Pascal Siakam got up for this alley-oop dunk from Fred VanVleet. The Raptors lost Game 2, but rallied to win their first NBA title.

1986: Bill Walton with the pick, the pop, the catch, and the bullet pass to a cutting Larry Bird for a wide-open layup. Exquisite execution by the Celtics as they took a 2-0 lead on the Rockets.

2022: It was a Poole Party in Golden State as Jordan Poole pulled up from one step inside half court to beat the 3rd quarter buzzer with a 39-footer.