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The stakes for the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

The NBA finals got underway in Boston last night, and let me tell you, it was a great night to be a Celtics fan. Boston thumped the Dallas Mavericks 107-89 in game one of the best-of-seven series. There is a whole lot at stake for both teams, and joining us now to break it all down is Esteban Bustillos with member station GBH in Boston. Hey there.

ESTEBAN BUSTILLOS, BYLINE: Hi, Juana.

SUMMERS: All right, so you we covering this game. Tell us what the scene was like last night at the arena.

BUSTILLOS: Yeah. So there was a lot of energy in the building - TD Garden in Boston. Now, for Boston, they - listen. They lost the finals in 2022 and 2010. They last won in 2008. So there's a lot of anticipation for finals victory. But they've got the Dallas Mavericks in their way. Now the Mavs may be the hottest team of the playoffs, and that franchise's one and only championship came in 2011. So listen. They're hungry, too. But last night Boston landed a solid first punch, beating the Mavs easily. But Celtics star Jaylen Brown - he wasn't satisfied with just one win.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAYLEN BROWN: You can't be celebrating ourselves. Dallas is, you know, probably getting ready for the next game right now, so we got to prepare and get ready for the next one, too.

SUMMERS: OK. And as you mentioned, the last time the Celtics won a title was back in 2008. So how much pressure is there on this Boston team in the series?

BUSTILLOS: Yeah. So listen. Let's remember. Boston has a total of 17 titles. Now, that's tied for the most ever in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, their rival. So they desperately want to pull ahead and own the record outright. Now, this current Celtics core, led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown - they've done pretty much everything except win that elusive title. Last year they lost in the Eastern Conference finals. And Boston - listen. Those NBA championship banners - that's all anyone cares about. And Jayson Tatum admitted after the game that he was a bit nervous heading into game one.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAYSON TATUM: It's surreal being in the finals. And, you know, when you're young, I guess, in your career, you think you're always go to go back. And last year was kind of like a wake up call when we didn't make it. So, you know, getting back to this point and being here - it's really a big deal.

BUSTILLOS: And, Juana, listen. Now, that team is three wins away from their ultimate goal, but let's not forget Dallas is a really good team.

SUMMERS: That they are. And a whole lot has been made about Dallas guard Kyrie Irving. He used to play for Boston, and we'll just say he left under not the best of terms. What was the reception like for him in game one?

BUSTILLOS: Yeah. Pretty much he got booed every time he touched the ball. Here's the sound of how the crowd reacted when he was introduced.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: No. 11, Kyrie Irving.

(CROSSTALK)

BUSTILLOS: But after the game, Irving was taking everything in stride.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KYRIE IRVING: You know, I thought it was going to be a little louder in here. But I'm expecting the same things going into game two - crowd trying to get me out of my element, my teammates out of my element. But, again, the energy's got to be focused towards the game.

BUSTILLOS: Now, listen. This loss is not how Dallas wanted to start these finals. But the Mavericks have bounced back in the playoffs before, and they definitely shouldn't be counted out.

SUMMERS: OK, Celtics lead 1-0. Where's the series go from here?

BUSTILLOS: Right. It's a good first punch from Boston, but don't expect the rest of the series to be this wide open. Now, Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis - he was a big factor. This was his first game back since the first round. If he can stay healthy, Boston looks good. But listen. Dallas' star duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have proved a lot of people wrong. Expect them to make this a competitive series. And look. It's really fun. This is Luka Doncic's first NBA finals. He's going to be one of the best players ever when it's all said and done. Game two is Sunday, so, Juana, get your popcorn ready. Get the butter, salt, all that. It's going to be a lot of fun.

SUMMERS: Oh, yeah. I'm definitely going to be watching. That was Esteban Bustillos from member station GBH in Boston, talking to us about the NBA finals. Thank you.

BUSTILLOS: Thank you, Juana. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Esteban Bustillos
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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