Boston Celtics believed to have ideal roster to rein in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving

Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four
Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Ringer's Zach Kram believes the Boston Celtics have the ideal roster to contain the Dallas Mavericks' star duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in the 2024 NBA Finals with the Jaylen Brown-Derrick White-Jrue Holiday troika on the perimeter.

" far as one exists, Boston has the ideal roster to try to rein in that dynamic duo," Kram prefaced before saying, "Joe Mazzulla’s Celtics start four plus perimeter defenders who can mix, match, and share the assignments of defending Dallas’s guards.

"The Celtics’ primary defender on Doncic in the regular season was Jaylen Brown, who has improved as a wing stopper despite middling defensive metrics, while Jrue Holiday handled the matchup with the second-highest frequency. Holiday and Derrick White—who both made an All-Defensive team this season—split the Irving assignment."

Slowing down Doncic and Irving nearly ensures Banner 18 barring otherworldly shooting performances from PJ Washington, Derrick Jones Jr., Maxi Kleber and the rest of Dallas' second unit. But Boston also has a potential path to exploiting the Mavs' frontcourt and putting maximum pressure on Jason Kidd's offense.

Al Horford is Boston Celtics' X-factor against the Mavericks in NBA Finals

Dallas has two strong rim-protectors in Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively that the Cs will have to contend with. Al Horford finding his rhythm from beyond the arc can nearly nullify their impact, however.

With Kristaps Porzingis's timeline to return to the court unclear -- playing the former team that scapegoated him for their first-round exits in 2020 and 2021 certainly adds urgency to the Latvian's desire to be an impact player in the Finals -- Horford will be a key player in this series. If he isn't worth defending on the perimeter in Dallas' eyes, that impedes the rest of the Cs starters' ability to get easy buckets in the paint. If, however, he is, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Jrue Holiday all have exploitable mismatches to take advantage of with the ball in their hands.

At 38 years old by the time the Finals start, Horford remains an X-factor deep into his career. In fact, this may be the most important role he's ever played in his 17-year career.