Dallas Mavericks, Kyrie Irving / David Berding/GettyImages

For the first time since 2011, the Dallas Mavericks are back in the NBA Finals after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-103 in Minneapolis on Wednesday night.

They will now play the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

Heading into the 2024 NBA Finals, the Mavs and Celtics each have a former All-Star on their roster who played for the other team. For both of those players, this NBA Finals is personal.

Irving and Porzingis have bad blood to settle with former teams in NBA Finals

One of those players is Kyrie Irving.

After requesting a trade from the Cavs in the Summer of 2017, Irving was traded to the Celtics before the 2017-18 season. High expectations were around Irving when he was traded. The Celtics fell to the Cavs at home in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals with Irving sidelined due to a left knee injury. The following season, drama had begun.

Having a player option in 2019, Irving announced he had plans on re-signing with the Celtics after the 2018-19 season concluded. The Celtics expectations in 2019 were high to win a championship. On February 1, 2019, with the Celtics struggling, when one reporter asked Irving if he still intended to re-sign in Boston, Irving responded with “ask me July 1.”

The Celtics had an up and down season and clinched the fourth seed in the East for the 2019 Playoffs. After sweeping the Pacers in round one, the Bucks eliminated the Celtics in five games. On July 1, 2019, Irving left the Celtics and signed with the Nets.

In 2021 and 2022, Irving faced the Celtics in the Playoffs. Celtic fans gave Irving hostile treatment with boos and more. After Game 4 of the 2021 first round, Irving stepped on the Celtics logo at mid-court and a Celtic fan threw a water bottle at him going toward the locker room.

After years of being booed, heckled, and more, Irving has his chance to win his second NBA championship with this one being personal for everything Celtic fans have said to him. With playing the Celtics, Irving can be extra motivated to win this NBA Finals. In just a year and a half, not many expected the Mavs to be in the Finals since trading for Irving in February 2023.

Another player who this series will be personal for is Celtics forward Kristaps Porzingis.

In February 2019, the Mavs made a blockbuster deal to trade for the former All-Star of the Knicks. This was Luka Doncic’s rookie year, and there were huge expectations for him and Doncic. The 2019-20 season would be Porzingis’ first season playing for Dallas following an ACL injury.

After being eliminated in back-to-back first rounds in 2020 and 2021 by the Clippers, the Mavs traded Porzingis to the Wizards during the middle of the 2021-22 season. In December 2023, Porzingis admitted that he was feeling “spiteful” and didn’t like his role in the 2021 Playoffs.

Porzingis joined the Celtics before the 2023-24 season started and made an impact averaging 20.1 points per game. Now, Porzingis hasn’t played since Game 4 of the first round this Playoffs against the Heat as he’s dealing with a right calf injury. If ready for the Finals, Porzingis will want to show out against the team that traded him in 2022.

Both Irving and Porzingis enter this Finals with something to prove against their old teams. For both players, this Finals is personal. Irving is looking for his second NBA championship as Porzingis is looking for his first. Game 1 is on June 6.

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