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What the odds say: Do the Mavs have any chance at history?

Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association / Getty

You've heard the stat: No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. And that's exactly what the Mavericks are facing on basketball's biggest stage.

Dallas is +2000 - a probability of 5% - to storm back and win the series. The question isn't will the Mavs rally; it's how many games will it take for the Celtics to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Finals score odds

Series result Odds
Celtics in 4 -110
Celtics in 5 +175
Celtics in 6 +1100
Celtics in 7 +1200

Public bettors and media experts seemed convinced Dallas would break through despite the bad matchup for the Mavs and oddsmakers insisting the Celtics would win the Finals.

Mavs backers believed Luka Doncic, the best player in the series, could single-handedly lift Dallas past Boston. But that argument only works when the two teams are on equal footing. It doesn't matter which team rosters the best player when one is significantly better and deeper on both ends.

Boston's built a lead using its switchable, physical defense and by exploiting offensive mismatches. The Celtics use a drive-and-kick approach and force Dallas into rotation, creating a plethora of open threes. Boston's attempted more shots from long range (127) than 2-pointers (121) through three contests.

Even when the Celtics put up 25% from deep in Game 2, the Mavs couldn't capitalize. The Celtics successfully target the Mavericks' weak defenders, while Boston doesn't have any Dallas can prey on. Even Boston's lesser defenders - Al Horford, Sam Hauser, and Xavier Tillman - held their own when thrown on an island against prolific one-on-one scorers like Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Jayson Tatum broke out as a scorer in the first half of Game 3 after facilitating during Games 1 and 2. Although Tatum entered the series as the likeliest Finals MVP candidate, Jaylen Brown's consistency has made him the prohibitive favorite. Brown is -350 to win Finals MVP, while Tatum is +270.

For all of Doncic's offensive brilliance, he's been a defensive liability for Dallas. He's a cone defensively - and that might be discounting a cone's capabilities.

Boston mercilessly targets Doncic. The Celtics' guards consistently beat him off the dribble, forcing help and giving them an advantage. Doncic fouled out in Game 3 with four minutes remaining in a close contest because of his lazy defense and numerous poor decisions.

In his defense, Doncic has to carry an absurdly large offensive load, has dealt with lower body injuries throughout the playoffs, and is now dealing with a chest injury that requires a pain-killing injection.

But none of that is changing - and neither is the outlook of this series. Dallas can't hide Doncic defensively when the Celtics have shooting and scoring threats everywhere.

Kristaps Porzingis brings a different dynamic to the Celtics. His injury should theoretically favor the Mavs after his impressive opening two games helped Boston jump to a lead. But the Celtics have enough center depth to withstand Porzingis' absence.

The Mavs are likely deflated and it's a long shot for the series to extend past five games, but will Dallas show up at home Friday and push the series past the weekend?

The odds indicate the Finals are headed for a sweep - the first since 2018 and fourth since 2000 - with the Celtics -110 (52% implied probability) to win Game 4.

Doncic might have some extra motivation from the loud criticism of his poor Game 3 effort. If the Mavs win Game 4, Boston will be heavy favorites to close the series out at home. Regardless of how long it takes, the Celtics' 18th banner is coming.

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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