The NBA Finals begin tonight in Boston and the pick here is Dallas in six games over the Celtics. I know this is Boston’s second trip to the Finals in three years and the Mavs’ first appearance since they won it all back in 2011. I know the Mavericks have that one lone championship compared to the 17 banners that are hanging in the Boston Garden. I know the Celtics finished the regular season with the NBA’s top record and the Mavs squeaked in as a number five seed. Boston has home court advantage and they are the favorite. But…

The Celtics will be powerless against the Dallas D.

Luka and Kyrie will get their points. Duh. Boston sports fans are notoriously some of the worst in the world, right up there with Philly. They’re going to be rabid and profane, cursing and slurring and going non-stop to get under Luka’s skin and to rattle Kyrie. What they might not know is that the Mavs’ superstar guards absolutely thrive in that kind of atmosphere. Being heckled and booed brings out the best in those two. Never mind that Luka and Doncic are two of the most cold-blooded closeout killers in NBA history. Luka will average 30 points in this series and Kyrie more than 25. And they will silence that Boston crowd with long-distance threes and left-handed reverse layups all night long.

Maxi Kleber is healthy again and will stretch the floor with a few clutch threes. Hardy has grown in confidence and feel for the game throughout these playoffs and provides important work in the offensive paint. P.J. has become the emotional catalyst for the Mavs, a fierce competitor who wins every battle for a 50-50 ball. And Kidd’s pulling all the right strings.

But the main reason I like Dallas is their Big D. I know what Tyson Chandler did for the Mavs to help win it all in 2011. But the Mavericks have never had a couple of rim-rockers like Lively and Gafford. Never. They defend the rim like no other team–Dallas has more blocked shots through three rounds of the playoffs than all the other playoff teams combined. And the guards can lob a pass from anywhere on the floor and Lively or Gafford will get it and cram it home with authority. I know how talented those Boston guards are. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are skilled scorers and they have their own chips on their shoulders and plenty to prove. But they’re going to have to do it from outside. The paint will be closed to Boston this whole series. The rebounding edge belongs to the Mavs. And if the outside shots aren’t falling for the Celtics, Dallas could very well run away with it.

Here’s a hype video to get you ready for Game One tonight. The images in this video are compelling, but with Kermit the Frog as narrator, it’s not quite as satisfying as it could be.

Go Mavs.