NBA Playoffs

Who will win Celtics-Mavs? Simulation predicts high-scoring NBA Finals

The stars shine bright on the big stage for both teams in this simulation.

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Boston Celtics are four wins away from becoming the most successful franchise in NBA history. But raising Banner 18 won't be easy.

After dispatching the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics will square off with the Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks in the 2024 NBA Finals.

The Mavs are led by two game-changing superstars in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving but also boast an underrated supporting cast led by trade deadline pickups P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford and rookie big man Dereck Lively II. Since Gafford's first start in Dallas on March 7, only the Celtics have a better record than the Mavs (28-9).

That said, the Celtics will enter this series as heavy favorites after an NBA-best 64-18 regular-season record and a 12-2 record this postseason. Big man Kristaps Porzingis is expected to play in Game 1 after missing the team's previous 10 playoff games and should give Boston an immediate boost on both ends of the floor.

So, how will this series play out? NBC Sports Boston asked its partners at Strat-O-Matic -- who accurately predicted the Celtics' regular-season record down to the exact game -- to simulate the 2024 NBA Finals, with detailed box scores and recaps for every game.

Here are the full game-by-game results of the simulation, followed by detailed player stats for the series:

2024 NBA Finals Simulation: Game results

Game 1: Celtics 135, Mavs 127

Porzingis comes out firing in his first game action since April 29, hitting a pair of 3-pointers early in the first quarter to help Boston open up a double-digit lead.

The Celtics expand their lead to as many as 17 points, but the Mavs surge back behind a barrage of buckets from Doncic and Irving and take the lead early in the fourth quarter on a Derrick Jones Jr. 3-pointer.

Boston delivers with the game on the line, however, scoring the final 14 points of the contest -- including a dagger Porzingis 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining -- to clinch a Game 1 win.

Porzingis finishes with 21 points while Tatum and Brown combine for 61 points (36 and 25, respectively) to survive brilliant performances from both Doncic (38 points, 15 rebounds and five assists) and Irving (31 points and eight assists).

Game 2: Celtics 128, Mavs 124

Celtics fans get some early-playoff Game 2 flashbacks in this one, as the Mavs race out to a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter. But Jrue Holiday helps settle the C's down with eight straight points near the end of the first half, and Derrick White's 3-pointer helps Boston enter the break with a two-point lead.

The Celtics hold a two-point lead with under five minutes remaining when Tatum converts layups on consecutive possessions to put his team up by six. Dallas gets no closer than five until the closing seconds, as Boston earns another crunch-time victory to take a 2-0 series lead.

Tatum (34 points) and Holiday (24 points) pace the Celtics, while Doncic (35) and Irving (31) again are a two-man show for Dallas.

Game 3: Mavs 115, Celtics 108

The Celtics hold their own early in Game 3 as the series swings to Dallas, taking a six-point lead into halftime. But the Mavs respond with a 38-point third quarter and add 30 more in the fourth, ripping off a 19-7 run down the stretch that balloons their lead to as many as 13 points with four minutes remaining.

Boston has no answer for Doncic -- who goes off for a series-high 43 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists -- while Irving chips in 24. Brown is the Celtics' high scorer at 27 points and Porzingis adds 22, but Tatum is limited to 21 points on just 14 shots.

Game 4: Celtics 118, Mavs 103

The Mavs surge to a 12-point first-quarter lead and appear poised to tie the series at 2-2 heading back to Boston. But the Celtics deliver a strong response, limiting Dallas to just 13 points in the second quarter and taking a double-digit lead of their own in the third quarter.

The Jays do their thing -- 26 points from Brown and 24 from Tatum -- and Derrick White steps up with 20 points on four made 3-pointers, but it's Boston's defense that wins this game. Doncic makes just 10 of 25 shots for a series-low 26 points and commits three turnovers as the Celtics take a decisive 3-1 series lead with the chance to secure Banner 18 in Boston.

Game 5: Celtics 123, Mavs 103

Mission accomplished.

The Mavs keep it close for two quarters before the Celtics send TD Garden into a frenzy with a 14-0 run late in the third that gives them a 94-77 lead. Boston's defense once again leads the charge, limiting Dallas to just 38 second-half points while forcing a total of 20 Mavs turnovers.

On the offensive end, Brown delivers 31 points on 60 percent shooting (12 of 20), while Tatum (27), White (23) and Porzingis (21) all top 20 points in a fitting end to a dominant season for the Celtics.

Two years after watching the Golden State Warriors celebrate the 2022 championship on their own floor, the C's get sweet redemption and kick off a Garden Party by securing their NBA-record 18th title in franchise history.

Check out the simulation's full player stats below.

2024 NBA Finals Simulation: Player stats

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combine for more points, but Jayson Tatum and Jayson Tatum are more efficient in Strat-O-Matic's simulation. We'd give Tatum the NBA Finals MVP award in this scenario.
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