NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talks to reporters before Game 1...

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talks to reporters before Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks, Thursday, June 6, 2024, in Boston. Credit: AP/Charles Krupa

DALLAS — As a basketball fan, Adam Silver would have loved to have seen Caitlin Clark on the U.S. Olympic women's team for this summer's Paris Games.

As NBA Commissioner, he understands why it didn't happen.

Clark was not selected for the team that was announced by USA Basketball earlier this week, a decision that has sparked conversations within the game. The rookie for the WNBA's Indiana Fever has been perhaps the most scrutinized player in the league this season, and Silver has said he's rooting for her.

“From my standpoint — and I'm independent from USA Basketball, somebody whose job is to oversee the NBA and ultimately the WNBA — I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, but it would have been nice to see her on the floor," Silver said Thursday. “There’s no question that she’s one of the most popular players at this point in the world. The ratings demonstrate that.”

That was Silver, the fan, talking. Silver, the basketball executive, understood the mandate USA Basketball had — come up with 12 women that would have the best chance of winning yet another Olympic gold medal.

“My mandate is a bit different than USA Basketball’s,” Silver said. “My job is to get more people to watch and love basketball. USA Basketball has a very specific mandate about fielding the best possible team from a competitive standpoint, and I accept that they all did their jobs the way they were instructed to.”

Through her first 13 WNBA games, Clark — the league's rookie of the month for May — is averaging 16.3 points, 6.0 assists and 4.9 rebounds. She's one of two players with at least those averages entering Thursday; Las Vegas' Jackie Young is at 16.9 points, 6.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds.

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark signs autographs for fans before...

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark signs autographs for fans before the start of WNBA basketball game against the New York Liberty, Saturday, May 18, 2024, in New York. Credit: AP/Noah K. Murray

Silver said he's certain Clark is “going to have a great career ahead of her.”

“I’m sure there’ll be lots of opportunities for her to represent our country," Silver said.

Exclamation point?

A win for Boston on Friday night would give the Celtics not just a championship, but the most emphatic season-ending exclamation point in NBA history.

Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) shoots against Dallas Mavericks...

Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) shoots against Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving during the second half in Game 3 of the NBA basketball finals, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Dallas. Credit: AP/Tony Gutierrez

Boston enters Game 4 against Dallas on a 10-game winning streak, having won the last three games against Cleveland in Round 2, sweeping Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals and now taking the first three games of this series.

No team in NBA history has gone on such a streak — not even close — to cap off a championship season. Detroit won the final seven games of its 1989 title year and six teams (Golden State in 2018, San Antonio in 2007, the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002, Houston in 1995, the Warriors in 1975 and Milwaukee in 1971) finished championship years on six-game winning streaks.

The longest such end-of-season streak for a title-winning Celtics team was five games, in 1959.

Maybe it’s a Boston thing to end a season in such a way. The Bruins, Red Sox and Patriots have all had similar runs on their way to titles.

There have been two teams in Major League Baseball history to finish a championship season on eight-game winning streaks — the 2005 Chicago White Sox and the 2004 Red Sox.

In the NHL, two teams have gone on double-digit winning streaks to cap their runs to the Stanley Cup: the 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins (who won 11 straight games) and the 1970 Bruins (who won their last 10).

And in the NFL, the longest end-of-season winning streak by a Super Bowl winner is 17 games by the perfect-season 1972 Miami Dolphins — but the No. 2 streak to end a season is 15 in a row by the 2003 Patriots.

Up 3-0

This is the 12th time a team has had a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals. All but two of those previous matchups ended in Game 4.

The Celtics are bidding for the 10th four-game sweep in NBA Finals history and the first since Golden State swept Cleveland in 2018.

The other sweeps in the title series: San Antonio over Cleveland in 2007, the Los Angeles Lakers over New Jersey in 2002, Houston over Orlando in 1995, Detroit over the Lakers in 1989, Philadelphia over the Lakers in 1983, Golden State over Washington in 1975, Milwaukee over Baltimore in 1971 and the Celtics over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1959.

Two teams have gone down 3-0 and avoided a sweep. Seattle forced Chicago to six games in 1996 and Cleveland forced Golden State to five games in 2017.

Celtics on brink

Once the Celtics get to three wins in the NBA Finals, they almost always get that fourth for the championship.

The one exception: the last time they were in a clinching position.

Boston led the Los Angeles Lakers 3-2 in the 2010 NBA Finals, then dropped Games 6 and 7 on the road as Kobe Bryant won his fifth and final championship.

Every other time the Celtics have gotten to three wins in the title series, they've won it all. Boston is 17-11 all-time in finals-clinching opportunities — 10-3 at home, 7-8 on the road.

Keeping it 100

Boston's Payton Pritchard is in line to play in his 100th game of the season on Friday night. If he plays — there's no reason to think that he won't — he'll be the first player to reach the 100-game milestone this season.

Officially, that is.

Obi Toppin played in 99 games for the Indiana Pacers, not including the In-Season Tournament championship game against the Los Angeles Lakers. That game wasn't recorded in NBA stats since it wasn't part of the 82-game regular-season slate. Had it counted, Toppin would have been credited for appearing in 100 games this season.

If this series goes seven games, it's possible that Boston's Sam Hauser and Dallas' Derrick Jones Jr. could also play in exactly 100 games. Both have made 96 appearances heading into Friday night.

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