Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, May 26: Here’s how rare that Celtics comeback was

Boston rallied from 18 back in the 3rd quarter to go up 3-0, with clutch effort by Jrue Holiday and Jayson Tatum.

Starting 5

When you go up 3-0, but you needed a little history to get there.


Jrue & Jayson: Holiday’s clutch plays & Tatum’s monster night paced the C’s in a historic comeback

Role Players Rise: Al Horford & Andrew Nembhard put in work on Saturday

Kyrie & Luka: How their chemistry & friendship have elevated their play — and their team

3 Things For Game 3: What to watch before Wolves-Mavs heads to Dallas tonight (8 ET, TNT)

Fan Favorites 2024: Who took home hardware for top dunk, dime, style & more?


Today: The Western Conference Finals shifts to Dallas (8 ET, TNT), where the Mavs look to go up 3-0 and the Wolves look to stay red-hot on the road in the postseason.


Weighed by an illness, Jrue Holiday had to skip shootaround on Saturday morning.

But after logging 38 minutes in Game 3, Holiday used whatever he had left to make two of the biggest plays of the Celtics’ season – completing Boston’s 18-point comeback and lifting the Celtics to a 114-111 win over the Pacers & a 3-0 ECF lead. | Recap | The Comeback

  • Historic Comeback: The Celtics became just the 6th NBA team since 1997-98 to win a Playoff game after trailing by 18 or more in the 2nd half
  • Jrue’s And-1: With 39 seconds left and Boston on the verge of its first lead since early in the 2nd Q, Holiday powered his way to an And-1 layup to put the C’s up 112-111
  • Jrue’s Steal: With Andrew Nembhard (32 pts) driving, Holiday swiped the rock and hit 2 free throws to increase the lead to 114-111 with 3 seconds left. Hear him call it

  • Deja Vu: For the second time this series, a Holiday stop in crunch time helped seal a win. In Game 1, his defense on Ty Haliburton forced a late turnover that led to a Jayson Tatum dagger trey
  • 🗣️ Said Tatum: “Man, I’m glad we got him.”

As for Tatum … the Celtics’ All-NBA First Teamer put together one of the best Conference Finals games in the history of one of the NBA’s original teams. | Tatum’s Highlights

  • No Celtic has ever matched his line of 36+ pts, 10+ reb, 8+ ast and 2+ blk in the Conference Finals
  • Only one player ever has in the Conf Finals, since blocks were first recorded in 1973-74: Charles Barkley, who went 43-15-10-2 against Seattle on June 1, 1993
  • Tatum became the youngest player ever to reach 2500+ pts, 800+ reb & 500+ ast in the Playoffs, and the 4th Celtic ever – joining Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Paul Pierce

About That Comeback: Boston had jumped out to an early lead, but a 63.6% first-half shooting performance by the Pacers put Indy up 69-57 at the break – a lead that jumped to 84-66 with 6 mins left in the 3rd.

  • From that point on, the No. 1 seed outscored the Pacers 48-27, shooting 50% from the field and limiting Indy’s high-powered offense to just 30.6%
  • That included a 13-2 run to finish the game
  • One other standout stat? The Celtics blocked 8 shots in the final 18 minutes, compared to zero from the Pacers. Tatum & Derrick White led with 2, as every Celtic starter got one
  • Said Tatum: “No lead is safe in the NBA no more. … But you gotta believe. We always believed we got a chance to win the game.”

Game 4 tips Monday at 8 ET on ESPN.


Andrew Nembhard and Al Horford had led their teams in scoring once this year. Combined.

But over the course of Saturday’s Game 3, the pair – featuring a player (Horford) in his 17th year and the other in his second – starred for their squads in a battle of role players going big.

  • Nembhard’s team-high 32 pts shattered his previous Playoff career-high of 20 (from earlier this year), as he filled in for the injured Tyrese Haliburton
  • Horford (23 pts) hit a Playoff career-high 7 threes, including four in the first half to keep the Celtics from falling further behind, then two more during the 18-point comeback

Thrust Into Spotlight: Nembhard had started 47 games this year, but built a rep more as a defensive player and reliable ballhandler than a marquee scorer. Til Saturday at least.

  • Nembhard ranked 1st in DefRtg on the Pacers this year (min 15 mpg) and third in AST/TO ratio – but just 11th on the team in PPG. He’d led Indy in scoring once.
  • But his 17 points in the 2nd quarter – the most he’s ever scored in a quarter in any game – powered the Pacers to a 38-25 second frame
  • On a night when 4 Pacers scored 20+ in Haliburton’s absence (TJ McConnell, Pascal Siakam, Myles Turner), Nembhard led Indy in scoring during Boston’s comeback, too, with 9 pts

Horford Heats Up: The 17-year vet’s 23 points gave him the most he’s had since the 2022 postseason, with 8 of them coming as the Celtics climbed back in the 4th quarter.

  • Oldest Ever: The 37-year-old, who turns 38 on June 3, became the oldest player to drain 7+ treys in a Conference Finals game
  • Said Tatum: “He’s a guy that keeps us all together.”


Going into this season — after playing less than 20 games together in a 2022-23 campaign that saw the Mavs miss the Playoffs — Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic talked about their hopes in building chemistry.

Now, entering tonight’s West Finals Game 3 (8 ET, TNT) with a 2-0 series lead, they’re sounding like longtime friends — and crediting their relationship as a catalyst for success.

  • 🗣️ Luka on Kyrie: “He just helped me mature a lot. And realize to see the game in a different way. And obviously on the court, he’s amazing to play with.”
  • 🗣️ Kyrie on Luka: “I think the big word that we both can agree on is just maturity… Off the court, I knew eventually that I would get him to open up. He’s a teddy bear that likes to compete.”

The Partnership: Kyrie & Luka combined for 50+ points in a league-high 41 games in the regular season and now find themselves two wins away from the NBA Finals.

  • In the regular season, Doncic (33.9 ppg) and Irving (25.6 ppg) were the highest-scoring duo among players qualified as a league leader (min. 58+ games played)
  • This postseason, they’ve already combined for 50+ points seven times, including in Dallas’ last three games — all of which have been wins
  • Mavericks All-Time List: Kyrie & Luka join Nick Van Exel and Steve Nash as the only Mavs teammates to both notch 300 points and 75 assists in a Playoff run

The Progress: But the stats only tell part of the story — Luka said he’s seen Kyrie step into his role as a leader, and Kyrie said he’s seen Luka take his place among the greats.

  • 🗣️ Luka: “Everybody looks up to him… He’s been amazing to us. Helping us out. Talking to us. Keeping us positive. I’m really glad he’s on our team.”
  • 🗣️ Kyrie: “I’m amazed… Watching him ascend into becoming an all-time great is amazing, and I don’t take it for granted.”

The 1-2 Punch: When one’s been off, the other’s taken over — like in Game 1 when Irving scored 24 points in the 1st half and Doncic dropped 19 in the 2nd — and when they’re both on, it’s bad news for their opponents.

  • Sweet 60: The Mavericks are 15-8 this season when Kyrie & Luka combine for 60+ points
  • In Game 1 of the WCF, Kyrie & Luka became just the sixth pair of teammates to each score 30+ points in their first Conference Finals game together
  • In Game 2, they combined for 52 points, and each had a 3 in the final 1:05 of regulation, stamped by Doncic’s game-winner with 3.1 seconds remaining

Will Kyrie & Luka lead the Mavs to a third straight win against the Wolves in Dallas, or will Minnesota bounce back in Game 3? Find out tonight at 8 ET on TNT.


Four. That’s how many total points separate the Mavs and Wolves in the Western Conference Finals.

The opening two contests in Minnesota each came down to one possession, and while Dallas returns home with a 2-0 series lead, the scoreboard tells a closer story.

With Minnesota looking to make it 2-1 after a change of scenery, and Dallas looking to take a commanding 3-0 lead, lock in on 3 things to know before Game 3 (8 ET, TNT).

1. Road Warriors: Or should we say Road Wolves? Minnesota has gone 5-1 on the road in the Playoffs — compared to its 3-4 record at home — and went 3-1 in Denver last series.

  • Home Away From Home: The Wolves have averaged more points (109.2 vs. 107.1) and shot a higher percentage (47.7% vs. 45.3%) on the road this postseason than at home
  • Ant & KAT: Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns have been particularly better on the road in the Playoffs, as Ant’s scoring average (30.0 ppg vs. 25.4 ppg) jumps 4.6 points and Kat’s (23.2 vs. 14.1) jumps 9.1
  • Avoiding A Second Third: Before losing Games 3-5 against the Nuggets, Minnesota hadn’t dropped three straight games all season

2. Ant & KAT (Again): Edwards and Towns — the Wolves’ two top scorers this season — shot a combined 9-33 in Game 2. Can they return to form tonight?

  • Finishing: Before this series, Ant was shooting 69.1% within five feet of the basket, while KAT was shooting 63.3% — this series they’re shooting 20.0% and 46.2% around the rim
  • Points In The Paint: In the first two rounds, Ant averaged 11.1 PITP per game, and KAT averaged 8.2 — in the WCF, Dallas has limited them to 3.0 and 6.0 PITP per game, respectively

  • The ‘Big’ 3: Dallas’ trio of Daniel Gafford, Dereck Lively II and P.J. Washington have dominated the paint, holding Minnesota players to 20% lower FG% than team averages when they’re defending inside 6 feet
  • KAT: Game 2 marked the second time all season that KAT (4-16 fg) shot 25% or worse on 10+ attempts, and he didn’t see action after subbing out at the 8:40 mark of the 4th quarter, while a scorching-hot Naz Reid filled in
  • 🗣️KAT: “I’m with winning, so whatever it takes to win… Coach’s decision. Won’t question it one bit.”
  • 🗣️Ant: “I ain’t trippin’. I’m not really stressing about me getting going. Just keep making the right plays.”

3. The Clutch: Game 1 was decided by three points (108-105). Game 2 was decided by one point (109-108). The Mavs have taken both — Why?

  • Luka Doncic: In 10 total minutes of clutch time (the final five minutes of each game), Luka’s scored a series-high 10 points, including five in the final 60 seconds of both games combined
  • 3s: Dallas has shot 4-7 (57.1%) from downtown in clutch time, while Minnesota has shot 2-7 (28.6%)
  • Turnovers: The Mavs also only have three turnovers in clutch time compared to the Wolves’ five
  • Final Minute: In the final 60 seconds of each game, Dallas has outscored Minnesota 7-3, going 2-4 from the field with no turnovers while the Wolves’ have shot 1-4 from the field and turned it over twice


NBA ID Members around the world voted.

And on Friday, the winners of this year’s NBA Fan Favorites powered by NBA ID were unveiled.

See which players took home the hardware in categories like best dunk, best dime, best style and more – including a trio of awards to one of the game’s biggest rising stars.

AT&T Dunk of the Year: Anthony Edwards

Block of the Year: Anthony Edwards

State Farm Assist of the Year: DeMar DeRozan

Kumho Tire Handle of the Year: Kyrie Irving

Michelob Ultra Drip Style of the Year: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

How’d the players react?

  • Kyrie handled his new hardware with care