There are several storylines surrounding the Celtics-Mavericks NBA Finals that start on Thursday night in Boston.

From Kyrie Irving being public enemy No. 1 to the Celtics fans to Kristaps Porzingis coming back from a calf strain that forced the big man to miss 10 games and the fact he is facing his old team as well, the series has plenty of built-in “must-see” TV.

But, four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal offered what he believes is the biggest storyline of the Finals.

“I think the most significant storyline that I’m focusing on is can the Boston Celtics get it done?” O’Neal said before Game 1’s tipoff on NBA TV. “With Luka (Doncic) and Kyrie (Irving), a lot of people were skeptical … it’s not gonna work. It has worked. They’re here.”

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O’Neal continued: “But for Boston, they have failed so many times. They’ve always had successful regular seasons, but last year, Miami, Game 7 here. Redeemed themselves and came back. Had an easy run to get to the Finals, but my question is and the storyline I’m focusing on is can they get it done. Because, if they can’t get it done after this … especially after the easy road, I don’t know if they can ever get it done.”

The Celtics easily defeated the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers and are entering the NBA Finals with six straight wins.

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While O’Neal believes the pressure is on the Celtics to get it done, longtime NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan believes this team is completely different than in years past.

“I always start with the adult in the room, Jrue Holiday, who has already won a championship,” MacMullan said on NBC Sports Boston’s pregame coverage. “Every time things get tight so far in the postseason, he makes either one little play that you might not notice … that gets everybody settled down.

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“You have (Kristaps) Porzingis … the way he spaces the floor for (the Celtics), (the Mavericks) can’t double team (Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown anymore because you can dump (the ball to Porzingis) in the post. … I think it’s night and day from last year, truthfully.”

Jayson Tatum averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists per game in the 2024 playoffs, joining Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor and Neil Johnston for the best in NBA postseason history.

The stage has been set for the Celtics for 16 years. There’s only one thing left to do.

Tipoff for Game 1 from TD Garden is set for 8:37 p.m. ET.

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Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images