6 Biggest X-factors for Dallas Mavericks heading into Finals

Dallas Mavericks, P.J. Washington
Dallas Mavericks, P.J. Washington / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Daniel Gafford

Dallas Mavericks starting center Daniel Gafford has been inconsistent in the 2024 NBA Playoffs, but one thing is for sure.

Gafford is going to protect the rim with all he has, and the Mavs' game plan of forcing opposing teams to the rim and forcing them to finish over Gafford and Dereck Lively II has massively worked in Dallas' favor.

Having two big bodies down low has formed an elite one-two punch at center in Dallas, and now Gafford will be tested in a big way against the Boston Celtics' centers. Both Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford space the floor, and Gafford will have to prove that he can stick with them or his time on the floor in this series could be limited.

Boston's five-out offense is going to test the Mavs, and Gafford has to be prepared for this. In these playoffs, Gafford is averaging 9.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 61.4 percent from the field, and these next games will be the biggest games of his life.

Gafford has been excellent as a lob catcher in the pick and roll with Luka Doncic, but his decision-making out of the pick and roll has been suspect at times. His struggles in this area may just be magnified since Lively II is elite in this area, but Gafford must be able to make the right decision at key parts of the game.

Whether that entails him firing a pass to an open shooter on the perimeter or taking a dribble or two and finishing strong at the rim, Gafford is going to be tested by Boston in this area, especially if they're double-teaming Doncic and Kyrie Irving at the top of the key.

For all the latest on Daniel Gafford and the Dallas Mavericks throughout the 2024 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, stay tuned.