BOSTON -- On a night when the Celtics honored Hall of Famer Bill Walton, the franchise took a massive step toward claiming a record-setting 18th NBA championship thanks to Kristaps Porzingis reprising Walton's sixth-man role.

Porzingis, playing in his first game in more than five weeks because of a calf strain he suffered in the first round, had 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in 20 minutes Thursday night, leading the Celtics to a 107-89 demolition of the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.


Porzingis put on a clinic in the first quarter. He scored his first points after drawing a foul from former teammate Luka Doncic after posting him up near the elbow, and then hit a jumper on the next possession from basically the same spot. That kick-started the Celtics, who outscored the Mavs 25-9 over the rest of the quarter after Porzingis checked in and led 37-20. Boston would never relinquish the lead.

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The return of Porzingis allowed the Celtics to stick to the eight-man rotation they used throughout the season, with the star perimeter quartet of Jayson Tatum, Brown, White and Jrue Holiday; Horford and Porzingis splitting minutes at center, plus some cameos on the court together; and guards Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser coming off the bench.

The Celtics also stuck to their script and dominated at the 3-point line, shooting 16-for-42 and outscoring the Mavericks by 27 from behind the arc. Dallas shot just 7-for-27 from deep.

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