We've still got almost a full week to wait, but now we know for certain the Celtics' opponent in their quest for Banner 18.

Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks. A team that at one point earlier this season was a 50-1 longshot to win the title, knocked off three 50-win teams to survive the Western Conference gauntlet. That after closing the regular season at 16-4 in their final 20 games.

Boston won both its regular season meetings with Dallas, 119-110 in the Lone Star State in January, and 138-110 in the Hub in March. It's no surprise that following the Mavericks' Game 5 win to dispatch Minnesota last night, the Celtics opened this morning as -225 favorites for the title, compared to Dallas checking in as +185 underdogs.

The storylines are right there. Kyrie's return to Boston (where he's 0-10 in the last three years). Kristaps returning to action to face his former squad. Tatum and Luka battling it out for face-of-the-league superiority. But when it comes to predicting the action? I'm having a tough time coming up with reasons to go against the C's.

That's what 76 wins in 96 attempts will do. Whatever Dallas does well, the Celtics can do better. Luka is amazing, he's the best offensive player in the league, but Boston has multiple bodies to through at him and attempt to neutralize. Those matchups don't go the other way.

How do you see the series playing out? Does it end with Banner 18 being raised to the rafters?



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