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Are Mavs underdogs vs. Celtics? Derrick Jones Jr. makes bold claim

Are Mavs underdogs vs. Celtics? Derrick Jones Jr. makes bold claim originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Dallas Mavericks enter the 2024 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics as one of the biggest betting underdogs in recent Finals history.

Derrick Jones Jr. apparently hasn't seen those odds.

The Mavs wing was asked Sunday how he feels about the narrative of Dallas being an underdog, and responded with a confident statement in his team's abilities.

"We believe that we can beat anybody," Jones said, via Abby Jones of Bally Sports Southwest. "Underdog, I don’t like that really. Everybody's going to keep putting that narrative on us.

"If we go out there and play the game like we're supposed to play it, I don’t really think anybody can beat us in a seven-game series."

The Celtics obviously might have something to say about Jones' comments, considering they went 64-18 in the regular season, won both of their matchups against Jones' Mavs and have gone 12-2 this postseason while steamrolling to their second NBA Finals in three years.

But Dallas didn't reach this point by lacking confidence. While the Mavs are only the second No. 5 seed in history to reach the NBA Finals, they own the league's second-best record since March 7 at 28-9 (behind only the Celtics) and have knocked off three 50-win teams this postseason in the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jones has played an unexpected role in the Mavs' late-season surge; the 27-year-old NBA journeyman averaged a career-high 8.6 points per game this season after joining Dallas last offseason and has started every playoff game to date, contributing 9.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 39.6 percent from 3-point range.

The Celtics are by far the more talented team and arguably have the top six players in this series outside Mavs stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. That said, Dallas will be the best team Boston has faced so far this postseason after the C's dispatched the Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat, the Donovan Mitchell-less Cleveland Cavaliers and the Tyrese Haliburton-less Indiana Pacers.

In short, C's fans should expect to see a very confident Mavs team that won't back down when the NBA Finals kick off Thursday night at TD Garden for Game 1.