BOSTON — In sports, players can never look past an opponent or take anything for granted. But fans? In reality, they have no game to win, so they are allowed to let their minds wander.
In that sense, it would make a lot of sense for the Dallas Mavericks to feel a strong level of support coming from the northeast corner of the United States on Thursday night when they take on the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.
The Mavericks kept their season alive with a win at Dallas on Tuesday night, avoiding a sweep and forcing the series to extend to a Game 5. The Warriors will look to close out the series on Thursday night to advance to their sixth NBA Finals in eight seasons.
The Warriors winning the West may be an inevitability. But Celtics fans, hoping to see Boston advance to the Finals for the first time since 2010, will at least want the series-clinching win to be postponed for a couple more days.
If the Warriors win Thursday, they’ll get a full week off before Game 1 of the Finals and won’t have to travel. The Finals kick off next Thursday, June 2, with the winner of the West getting home-court advantage.
Even … Yes the Mavericks can win Game 5 on the road … and Yes the Celtics can beat the Heat in their Game 6 on Friday night … then the Celtics could get a head start in the rest department before what is going to be a very challenging series.
(Possibly noteworthy: Scott Foster has been assigned as crew chief for Thursday night’s game. It could be debated whether or not the nickname “The Extender” is justified … but Boston fans will surely expect it to ring a bell.) true for this one).
Considering how banged up the Celtics have been, with Robert Williams and Marcus Smart missing games, and Jayson Tatum dealing with a shoulder problem, and considering how much the team has relied on 35-year-old Al Horford, the rest figures being quite a valuable commodity at the moment. In that regard, the Celtics can be their biggest help by winning their series on Friday and saving themselves a trip to Miami for Game 7 on Sunday night.
However, at this time of year, when every little benefit can help, Celtics fans can at least look west and hope that Luka Doncic and company have at least one spectacular night left in their season.
(This is where we can point out that the Warriors are 7-0 at home this postseason, with an average margin of victory of more than 17 points per game. So while a Mavericks win may be unlikely, it is somewhat that Celtics fans should expect). cheer up one night before the far more important matter at hand.)