Dallas' Game 4 dismantling of Boston fuels doubts despite a 3-1 lead

It may be a 3-1 series lead, but the Boston Celtics once again gave reason for fans to not trust this team
2024 NBA Finals - Game Three
2024 NBA Finals - Game Three / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Just one more win in Game 4 at Dallas, and the championship would be theirs. However, the Boston Celtics' performance was nothing short of abysmal. What should have been a coronation turned into a nightmarish collapse, casting a shadow of doubt, the same shadow of doubt that has lingered for so long.

From the outset, the Celtics seemed disjointed. The Mavericks, facing elimination, played with the desperation and cohesion of a team with nothing to lose. Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving orchestrated the game masterfully, slicing through Boston’s defense with ease.

The Celtics, meanwhile, looked out of sorts. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who had been stellar throughout the playoffs, struggled to find their rhythm. Turnovers and missed shots plagued their efforts, and their frustration was palpable.

By halftime, the Celtics were trailing significantly. The Mavericks had seized control, feeding off the energy of their home crowd. Boston's defense, typically a strength, was porous. Role players like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Derrick Lively II exploited every gap, hitting clutch shots that further demoralized the Celtics.

It was NBA 2K24 on easy mode with the sliders pushed to the maximum efficiency. On the offensive end, Boston's ball movement was stagnant with no efficiency, so much so that their starters were pulled in the third quarter.

Every missed opportunity by the Celtics was met with a devastating counter by the Mavericks, and the lead continued to grow. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the outcome was all but decided. The Mavericks maintained a double-digit lead, and Boston's attempts at a comeback were thwarted at every turn. 122-84, a 38-point embarrassment on the road.

To quote the great Mike Francesa from WFAN and Mike and the Mad Dog, it was an utter disaster.
But here is the real fear, Could Boston, 20 years removed from 2004 and their Red Sox, see a team come back 3-0 on them like their baseball " lovable Idiots" did to Derek Jeter, A-Rod the Yankees?

The Celtics risk blowing the NBA Finals by letting the Mavericks get momentum.

This certainly is the type of team that it could happen. The specter of blowing a 3-0 lead, the first in the history of 156 teams. A 3-0 lead had felt like an unassailable advantage, but Game 4 shattered that illusion. The specter of doubt that had haunted the Celtics’ faithful for years resurfaced with a vengeance. How could a team that had been so dominant suddenly appear so vulnerable?

Sure, it is very possible that 16 years later, on Jun 17 (Monday), the Celtics can repeat 2008 and lock up their 18th banner. The stars might align for that, but what reason do we have to believe that this team won't once again blow it? After all, they were down 3-0 to Miami in 2023 before suddenly rallying only to once again come up short in Game 7. They already lost the 2022 finals to Golden State after leading 2-1.

The Celtics are coming home and the home crowd is going to be nervous. If the Mavericks do ANYTHING like what they did in Game 5, there is no denying that this will be a seven-game series. How can anyone trust this group of players to go back to Dallas and win in six? You can't. The situation is simple; either rise to the occasion, quelling the doubts and securing your legacy, or crumble under the weight of expectations and fears and further push the citizens to worry.

After all, Dallas is such a lovable crew and the pretty underdogs while the Celtics are supposedly this big bully and chokers and rude and all the other stuff you find from keyboard warriors. Are you in or are you out? That should be what Joe Mazzulla is asking his players as opposed to giving his cool and collected speeches. He is not Terry Francona to do that.