There’s only one team left standing in the way of the Boston Celtics from winning an NBA championship and that’s the Dallas Mavericks.

Celtics fans probably weren’t watching the Mavericks closely when the playoffs started. But Dallas sure has their attention now, especially after the Mavericks toppled three higher seeds in the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves to reach the NBA Finals.

The Mavericks are a bit of an unknown to the Celtics since the two sides only square off twice each regular season — Boston took both matchups this year. But we provided some clarity with these six things you need to know about the Mavericks before they face the Celtics on the NBA’s grandest stage:

Dallas doesn’t have much NBA Finals history
The Celtics are in search of Banner 18. Meanwhile, the Mavericks, who were founded in 1980, are making just their third Finals appearance in franchise history.

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Despite that discrepancy, the title droughts for the two organizations are similar. Boston is looking for its first ring since 2008 while Dallas avenged a 2006 Finals loss to Miami by besting the Heat for the championship in 2011 with Dirk Nowitzki leading the way against LeBron James.

The Mavericks do have a couple of players who have experienced winning it all, though. Kyrie Irving of course has a championship under his belt from his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Markieff Morris won a ring with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. The Celtics have just one player who has made it to the NBA’s mountaintop and that’s Jrue Holiday.

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Extreme makeover: Dallas edition
The Mavericks shook up their roster at the NBA trade deadline and it paid dividends. Dallas acquired P.J. Washington from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for former Celtics forward Grant Williams, who has received plenty of flak recently, Seth Curry and a 2027 first-round pick. The Mavericks also obtained Daniel Gafford from the Washington Wizards for Richaun Holmes and a draft pick.

Washington (6-foot-7, 230 pounds) and Gafford (6-foot-10, 234 pounds) immediately gave the Mavericks more size in the frontcourt and upgraded their interior defense. Dallas found its stride with Washington and Gafford in the starting unit as the Mavericks won 16 of 18 games before dropping the final two contests of the regular season.

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Washington and Gafford have made their mark this postseason as well. Washington is the team’s third-leading scorer with 13.6 points per game while Gafford is averaging 1.8 blocks, which is third-best in the playoffs.

Everything runs through Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving
This is to be expected with the Mavericks trotting out two of the more gifted scorers in the NBA. Only Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid had a higher usage rate than Doncic in the regular season.

Doncic, who netted 73 points in a game against the Atlanta Hawks in January, and Irving have seen their usage rates decrease in the playoffs, but they are still scoring in bunches and really do everything on the court for the Mavs.

Doncic, 25, is close to averaging a triple-double in the playoffs with 28.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists while Irving is contributing 22.8 points per game on 48.5% shooting from the field and 42.1% shooting from 3-point range.

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Doncic posted two insane triple-doubles against the Celtics in the regular season as he first notched 33 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists before settling for 37 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in the second go-around. Irving’s numbers were pedestrian compared to that as he averaged 21 points per game against the Celtics, but shot a lousy 28.6% from beyond the arc.

It’s a 3-point party
Joe Mazzulla wants the Celtics to shoot as many 3-pointers as possible. Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd wants his team to do much of the same.

Dallas was second to Boston with 39.5 3-point attempts per game in the regular season, but that number dipped back to 33.5 during the playoffs. The Mavericks have shot 37.2% from deep in the postseason, which is just slightly better than Boston’s 36.8% from long range.

Doncic and Irving make sure to get up their shots from beyond the arc, but Washington is actually second on Dallas in the playoffs with 6.6 3-point attempts per game. He’s highly effective from the corners, too. He’s hit 28 corners 3s in the postseason to lead all players, according to John Schuhmann of NBA.com.

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Mavericks are comeback kids
The Mavericks facing a big deficit doesn’t mean they will just pack it in. It’s actually quite the opposite.

Dallas has shown throughout this season that it can climb out of sizable holes. The Mavericks closed out their second-round series with the Thunder with a 17-point comeback win and even erased a 31-point deficit against the Clippers in the first round before falling in the final seconds.

According to Schuhmann, the Mavericks are the only team over the past three postseasons with multiple wins after trailing by at least 17 points.

Improved Dallas defense
The Celtics put up 138 points on Dallas in March, but they won’t see the same Mavericks defense in the Finals.

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The Mavericks have improved on that end of the court thanks to the additions of Gafford and Washington along with the play of Dereck Lively II. After allowing a mediocre 115.6 points per game in the regular season, the Mavericks have stiffened up to yield 103.9 points per contest in the playoffs.

If Dallas can keep up that level of defensive play, they could just challenge Boston’s juggernaut offense.

Featured image via Andrew Dieb/USA TODAY Sports Images