What to know as the NBA finals unfold

BOSTON — Jason Kidd won an NBA championship as a Dallas player in 2011. He now has a chance to win one as a Dallas coach, which would put him in a very small club.

There are only 14 people in NBA history to win rings as both a player and a head coach. That group: Rick Carlisle, Larry Costello, Billy Cunningham, Tom Heinsohn, Red Holzman, Phil Jackson, Buddy Jeannette, K.C. Jones, Steve Kerr, Tyronn Lue, Pat Riley, Bill Russell, George Senesky and Bill Sharman.

Kidd can join a group within that group, too. Of those 14, there are seven to win titles as a player and a coach with the same team — those being Cunningham (Philadelphia), Heinsohn, Jones and Russell (Boston), Jeannette (Baltimore), Riley (Los Angeles Lakers) and Senesky (Philadelphia Warriors).


If Boston wins these NBA Finals, an argument could be made that this was the most dominant team in Celtics history.

Barring anything but a Dallas sweep, the 2023-24 Celtics will finish with either the second- or third-best winning percentage in team history. The 1985-86 Celtics were 82-18 (.820); the best this team can do is 80-20 (.800).

But where this team will almost certainly set itself apart in Celtics history is point differential. Again, barring something like Dallas winning four games in 30-point blowouts, Boston will finish with the highest differential over a total season in team history. These Celtics are outscoring teams by 11.2 points per game entering this series; the 1985-86 team outscored foes by 9.6 points per game.


The longer this series goes, the better the chance that Dallas’ Luka Doncic will become the 11th player in NBA history to score 3,000 points in a season — including playoffs.

Doncic is entering these NBA Finals with 2,859 points this season, so he needs 141 for 3,000.

It would be the 24th such season in NBA history if he gets there. Michael Jordan had 10 such seasons, Wilt Chamberlain had five and eight other players — Bob McAdoo, Elgin Baylor, James Harden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Rick Barry and Shaquille O’Neal — each did it once.

LeBron James, the league’s career scoring leader, got as close as one can to joining the 3,000-point club without ever hitting the milestone. In 2017-18, James finished with exactly 2,999 points.


This season will see a sixth team win in the last six seasons, after Denver in 2023, Golden State in 2022, Milwaukee in 2021, the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020 and Toronto in 2018.

It’s the second time in NBA history there has been a six-different-champions-in-six-years stretch. The Lakers won in 1980, preceded by Seattle in 1979, Washington in 1978, Portland in 1977, Boston in 1976 and Golden State in 1975.


At stake in this series: the NBA title, the Larry O’Brien Trophy, a pile of bejeweled rings and $4,856,937 in bonus money.

The NBA’s playoff pool is a record $33,657,947 this season and gets distributed to each of the 16 playoff teams. The deeper in the playoffs you go, the more money you get, and there were some additional bonuses for the top regular-season records as well.

Boston is already assured $7,202,498 from the pool, and the Celtics would see that figure rise to $12,059,435 if they win the NBA Finals.

Dallas has locked up no less than $5,899,422 in bonus money. The Mavericks would get a total of $10,756,359 if they win the title.

The bonus pool is typically split in some way among players and staff from the playoff teams.


Once again, a division champion will win the NBA title.

Boston won the Atlantic Division by 14 games, Dallas won the Southwest Division by one game. And that means this will be the 12th time in the last 13 seasons that a division champion will be the one that hoists the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The exception: Golden State in 2022, when the Warriors beat Boston. Before that, the last team to not win their division but win the NBA title was Dallas in 2011.

STICK AROUNDNBA teams that have a lead going into the fourth quarter have prevailed 84.1% of the time this season. But Dallas has a knack for rallying.

The Mavericks, including playoffs, have a league-best 14 wins this season when trailing after three quarters. The Celtics, also including the playoffs, have a league-high 69 wins when leading after three.

5 SEED CURSEDallas is trying to do something that no team has done under the current playoff seeding format, which goes back 40 years.

No team seeded No. 5 in either conference has won the NBA title.

One lower-seeded team did; Houston was a No. 6 seed out of the West in 1995 when it won a title. But all the other teams that made the finals after earning a seed of only No. 5 or worse — Miami in 2023, Miami in 2020 and New York in 1999 — lost the title series.

FOUR WITH 50Dallas has a chance at doing something that no team has since 2001 — beat four teams with at least 50 wins on its way to the NBA championship.

The Mavericks have beaten a 51-win team in the Los Angeles Clippers, a 57-win team in Oklahoma City and a 56-win team in Minnesota — starting each of those series on the road. Boston won 64 games in the regular season.

In 2001, it was the Los Angeles Lakers who, as the No. 2 seed in the West, beat 50-win Portland, 55-win Sacramento and 58-win San Antonio on its way to the NBA Finals — where they downed 56-win Philadelphia.

San Antonio nearly did it in 2014, beating three teams with 50 wins on its way to the title. But in the first round, the Spurs’ opponent had only 49 wins; that opponent was the Dallas Mavericks.

The 2002 Lakers also beat three 50-win teams and one 49-win team on their way to that season’s championship.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA


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