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Offseason | NBA Week 26

'Not done yet': Celtics eye 18th title as Mavs vow to regroup

Thu Jun 13 5:28pm ET
Field Level Media

BOX SCORE SCOREBOARD

DALLAS -- The Boston Celtics have history within their grasp going into Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday.

With a win, not only would the Celtics sweep the Dallas Mavericks, they would break a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most NBA championships of all time with 18.

It seems to be a matter of when, not if, Boston closes out the series. The Celtics have been dominant in the playoffs, and that continued with a 106-99 victory in Game 3 to take a 3-0 Finals lead on Wednesday night.

NBA teams have gone 156-0 when taking a 3-0 lead in any best-of-seven series, and there's no reason to think that streak is in jeopardy with Boston riding a 10-game winning streak and a perfect 7-0 road record this postseason.


But the Celtics aren't getting ahead of themselves.

"Nobody is celebrating or anything," Celtics star Jayson Tatum said Thursday. "We still feel like there's a lot more that we can do. There's a lot more that we want to do."

Added veteran Al Horford: "We're not allowing ourselves to think ahead. We're just trying to lock in on what we have to do. The job is not done yet."

Boston has proven to be the deeper, more talented team throughout the Finals. When Tatum struggled on the offensive end in the first two games in Boston, Jaylen Brown and Jrue Holiday stepped up. Tatum then delivered his best scoring performance in Game 3 with 31 points.

The Celtics were without center Kristaps Porzingis (left leg) in Game 3 and managed to fill the void just fine. Porzingis remains day-to-day.

"Kristaps has gotten better from yesterday to today," Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said Thursday. "He's fighting like hell to play. But it's going to be up to us to protect him and to make sure that it's in the best interest for him as a player and as a person."

The Celtics' defense, meanwhile, continues to play at a high level, holding the Mavs to fewer than 100 points in each of the first three games.

This is a Mavs team that topped the 100-point mark in all five of their games against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference finals. But Boston is a different animal with the versatility and various looks it can deploy.

Even when the Mavs had 62 combined points from stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in Game 3, the other nine players who saw minutes combined for just 37 points. The Mavs haven't been able to put it all together yet, largely because of the Celtics' defense.

Irving said the Celtics' defense is "very special to watch from afar."

"But also as a competitor, as a hooper, to be experiencing it at this level, it's an incredible teacher for me," Irving said. "I use it as a moment to learn how hard it is to win, especially against a great team that's going to guard you the way that they're guarding us."

Doncic has shown his brilliance on the offensive end at times but has also struggled on defense. Doncic and Mavs coach Jason Kidd both answered questions about all-time greats enduring similar playoff struggles early in their careers, such as Michael Jordan against Detroit and LeBron James against the Spurs.

"You've got to go through lows first to go on top," Doncic said. "I think that's great experience."

Added Kidd: "For great players, you have to fail to understand how to be successful at the highest stage. This is the highest level, being in the Finals."

Despite the long odds, Doncic isn't ready to give in yet. He felt the Mavs showed something in how they responded to a 21-point deficit early in the fourth quarter of Game 3 and rallying to make it a one-point game. Though the comeback fell short, the Mavs didn't go down without a fight.

"We've just got to believe," Doncic said. "We talk about it in the locker room. I know we can do it, and we're going to believe until the end."

--Drew Davison, Field Level Media

Player Notes
Saddiq Bey Thu Jul 11 10:40pm

Free-agent forward Saddiq Bey agreed to a three-year, $20 million deal with the Washington Wizards. The 25-year-old averaged 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists last season. Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL, limiting him to only 63 games. While Bey is still working his way back from the injury, he has a chance to carve out a meaningful role with the Wizards during the 2024-25 campaign, making him a stashable fantasy asset for when he returns.

Kobe Bufkin Thu Jul 11 10:20pm

Atlanta Hawks guard Kobe Bufkin (shoulder) won't play in the Las Vegas Summer League. The 2023 No. 15 overall pick suffered a right shoulder injury during a practice session on Tuesday night, with an MRI revealing "findings consistent with right shoulder subluxation." He's expected to be ready for training camp. However, Bufkin appeared in only 17 games during his inaugural year due to a thumb injury, so his latest injury is still concerning. He also averaged just 4.8 points, meaning his fantasy stock can't get much lower heading into the 2024-25 campaign.

Devin Carter Thu Jul 11 10:10pm

Sacramento Kings guard Devin Carter (shoulder) underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum. He's expected to be sidelined for six months. The 2024 No. 13 overall pick averaged 19.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1.0 blocks in 33 games with Providence last season. However, he's now expected to sit out a significant portion of the 2024-25 campaign, negatively impacting his development. As a result, Carter shouldn't see much interest from managers in redraft formats, and his fantasy stock in dynasty setups should drop considerably.

Evan Mobley Thu Jul 11 10:00pm

Cleveland Cavaliers forward/center Evan Mobley is eligible to sign a contract extension. While it's unknown when an agreement will occur, ESPN's Brian Windhorst believes negotiations between both sides won't be a lengthy process. "I would expect the contract to be done somewhat soon," said Windhorst during an interview. "I think the Cavs are willing to give him the max." The 2021 No. 3 overall pick has spent the last three seasons in Cleveland, averaging 15.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 198 appearances for the club. He was limited to just 50 games last season due to injury. However, if Mobley can stay healthy during the 2024-25 campaign, he has top-25 fantasy potential.

Kyle Lowry Thu Jul 11 10:00pm

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, free-agent guard Kyle Lowry agreed to a one-year deal with the 76ers on Thursday. The 38-year-old appeared in 23 games for Philadelphia in 2023-24, averaging 8.0 points, 4.6 assists, and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 40.4% from behind the arc. He should remain a part of Nick Nurse's rotation. However, Lowry's best days are behind him, so he's not expected to be a reliable fantasy option.

Josh Okogie Thu Jul 11 9:50pm

Phoenix Suns forward Josh Okogie agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal to remain with the team. The 2018 No. 20 overall pick didn't do much in his 60 appearances with the Suns last season. But he at least averaged 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 11 starts. With that in mind, Okogie will likely mirror his numbers from the 2023-24 campaign this season, meaning he won't draw interest from fantasy managers in any format.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Thu Jul 11 9:20am

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with lowly 3-for-10 shooting as Team Canada dropped Wednesday's exhibition match against the U.S. 86-72. Gilgeous-Alexander nailed two of his four attempts from deep and made all of his free throws, but he hurt his shooting numbers badly with a 1-for-6 effort on his two-point shots. The two-time All-NBA First Team member settled for 10 points, four rebounds, and one assist in 19 minutes. This was a rough outing for Gilgeous-Alexander, but he has plenty of time to get momentum for the Olympics and should be the team leader in the tournament.

RJ Barrett Thu Jul 11 9:10am

Toronto Raptors guard/forward RJ Barrett was Team Canada's top scorer with 12 points in Wednesday's 86-72 loss to the USA. Barrett played a large role in Canada's 11-1 start in the game, but the Americans soon took over and dominated. The Raptors star finished with 3-for-6 shooting, hitting 2-for-3 from outside. He struggled at the free-throw line, going 4-for-8. Barrett completed his line with five rebounds and one assist in 17 minutes. After enjoying an impressive finish in last year's World Cup, Barrett looks ready to continue where he left off in Paris.

LeBron James Thu Jul 11 9:00am

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James logged a busy 19 minutes in Team USA's first pre-Olympics exhibition matchup against Canada, finishing an 86-72 victory with seven points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one block. He shot 3-for-7 from the field, missing both attempts from downtown. James, who will be chasing his third Olympics gold in Paris, was part of the starting unit alongside Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, and Joel Embiid. Team USA is stacked with talent, but even at 39, James remains a vital piece for the squad with his all-around ability.

Anthony Davis Thu Jul 11 9:00am

Los Angeles Lakers forward/center Anthony Davis needed only 19 minutes of action to register a double-double in Team USA's 86-72 win over Canada on Wednesday. He came off the bench to score 10 points and grab a game-high 11 rebounds. Davis also had the most blocks in the game with four, picking up two assists and two steals. With Joel Embiid starting at center, Davis likely has to settle for a reserve role in Paris, but he can still fill up the box score, as he proved in Wednesday's victory.

Stephen Curry Thu Jul 11 8:50am

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry was in fine form in Team USA's 86-72 victory over Canada on Wednesday, notching 12 points in 19 minutes with 3-for-6 shooting from three-point range. He finished 4-for-7 overall from the field, dishing out three assists and bagging a pair of rebounds. Curry's outside shooting is expected to play a big role in the Olympics, and he certainly showed on Wednesday that he's ready to go. The Americans have four more exhibition games scheduled before starting the tournament in Paris versus Serbia on July 28.

Anthony Edwards Thu Jul 11 8:40am

Minnesota Timberwolves guard/forward Anthony Edwards scored a game-high 13 points as Team USA started its exhibition schedule with a comfortable win against Canada. Edwards was part of the team's second unit, which helped the U.S. overcome an early 11-1 deficit to win 86-72. He shot 6-for-10 from the field with one make from downtown while collecting three rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 19 minutes. Edwards was among the team leaders in last year's World Cup and likely won't want to settle for a bench role in Paris. This should result in more strong efforts from him in the warm-up games.

Kevin Porter Jr. Wed Jul 10 10:30pm

According to Law Murray of The Athletic, the NBA will resume the investigation of Los Angeles Clippers guard Kevin Porter Jr. The 24-year-old, who recently agreed to a two-year deal with the Clippers, was arrested in September 2023 for an altercation with his ex-girlfriend and missed the 2023-24 campaign. However, he reached a plea agreement, allowing him a chance to return to the NBA. With that said, Porter has plenty of talent, averaging 15.3 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in 196 games with the Cavaliers and Rockets. If he avoids a lengthy suspension and remains on the court in 2024-25, he'll have a chance to produce for the Clippers, a team that lost Paul George in free agency.

Kawhi Leonard Wed Jul 10 10:10pm

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (knee) will not suit up for Team USA at the 2024 Summer Olympics. Although the veteran was optimistic his condition had improved enough to allow him to play, many felt it would be in his best interest to focus on getting healthy for the 2024-25 campaign. Leonard, who's battled knee injuries throughout his career, appeared in 68 games for the Clippers last season. He remained productive, averaging 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals. Without question, Leonard is one of the best players in the National Basketball Association. But his fantasy stock will continue to drop due to his inability to remain on the court.

Dean Wade Wed Jul 10 10:10pm

According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Cavaliers forward Dean Wade has resumed "conducting full on-court workouts." He also is pain-free after missing the last 19 games of the regular season while suiting up for just three playoff contests because of a sprained knee. The 27-year-old averaged 5.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2023-24. While Wade could see time with the starting lineup in 2024-25, he's not expected to find himself on many fantasy rosters due to his lack of output in all statistical categories.

Dillon Jones Wed Jul 10 9:40am

Oklahoma City Thunder guard/forward Dillon Jones scored a game-high 21 points in a 98-75 win over the Utah Jazz in the Salt Lake City Summer League on Tuesday. The Weber State product, who was the 26th selection in last month's draft, had an incredible shooting touch in the game, going 7-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 at the charity stripe. His efforts included a 3-for-3 record from deep, and Jones capped off his performance with seven rebounds, four assists, and one steal. The Thunder are full of exciting young talent and might have landed themselves another one in Jones, who went close to a triple-double in his Summer League debut on Monday against Philadelphia.

Davis Bertans Wed Jul 10 9:20am

Free agent forward Davis Bertans is reportedly generating interest among multiple teams after getting waived by the Charlotte Hornets. According to HoopsHype's Michael Scotto, the New York Knicks are among the teams who are looking at Bertans. The 31-year-old is a sweet-shooting big man who would give an extra threat from deep to the Knicks. However, he will likely not get enough opportunities in New York to jump back into fantasy relevance. Bertans posted 6.7 points and 1.2 rebounds in 15.7 minutes across stints with Oklahoma City and Charlotte in 2023-24.

Josh Okogie Wed Jul 10 9:10am

The Phoenix Suns remain interested in bringing back guard/forward Josh Okogie. The 25-year-old has spent the past two seasons in Arizona but became a free agent after not picking up a $2.9 million option on his contract. Okogie averaged 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 16.0 minutes last season, logging 11 starts across 60 appearances. His numbers will likely be in a similar mold next season if he returns to Phoenix, which appears likely, as Okogie hasn't really been linked with any other teams since hitting free agency.

Kyle Lowry Wed Jul 10 9:00am

Veteran point guard Kyle Lowry could end up complementing the Big Three in Phoenix next season. According to PHNX's Gerald Bourguet, Lowry is in talks with the Suns. Phoenix has been desperate for a point guard, and the team has already snapped up Monte Morris as a free agent. Lowry's addition would give the backcourt a further boost, although he also continues to be linked with a return to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 38-year-old has lost a lot of fantasy value in recent seasons but could still do a job for teams in deeper leagues if he lands a starting role for 2024-25.

Lauri Markkanen Wed Jul 10 8:50am

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen continues to draw links with the Golden State Warriors. The Athletic's Anthony Slater has reported that the Warriors remain in pursuit of Markkanen, although he believes it could be a drawn-out process. Markkanen has averaged 20-plus points in back-to-back seasons and is just a year removed from being an All-Star. He would add shooting and size to the Warriors lineup, although Markkanen's scoring numbers could take a hit in San Francisco, with the offense flowing through Stephen Curry.