Celtics stomp Mavericks in Game 5, clinch record 18th NBA title

BOSTON — Behind Jayson Tatum’s 31 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists and Finals MVP Jaylen Brown’s 21 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, the Boston Celtics beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 to win the Finals NBA 2024, winning a record 18th NBA title on the 16th anniversary of their 17th championship in this same building.

In doing so, the Celtics passed their long-time rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, for the most titles in NBA history.

Boston, after having its worst game of the season in its first chance to close out this series on Friday night, responded with a wire-to-wire victory on Monday. Great performances from Tatum and Brown allowed Boston to put the game away early – much like in 2008, when the Celtics beat the Lakers in Game 6 at TD Garden to win their last championship.

That allowed the Celtics to build a 21-point halftime lead — with Payton Pritchard’s second half-court shot of the series emphatically sending Boston into the break with a comfortable lead, and sending the crowd sold out here at TD Garden in an absolute. frenzy.

The crowd was in a fervent state even before the game started, but especially when Kristaps Porzingis – who had missed Games 3 and 4 due to a torn medial retinaculum allowing the dislocation of the tibialis posterior tendon in his left leg – he suffered in Game 2 – entered the game midway through the first quarter. Porzingis finished with just 5 points in 16 minutes, but gave Boston valuable minutes by bringing Al Horford off the bench.

Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, continued to struggle in Boston, after admitting Sunday that he struggled playing against his former team at TD Garden. After going 13 of 37 from Boston in Games 1 and 2, including 0 of 8 from 3, he finished with 15 points on 5 of 16 shooting in Game 5.

Brown won his MVP award thanks to averages of 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5 assists during the five-game series, while constantly guarding Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic.

“It was a complete team effort and I share that with my brothers and my partner in crime Jayson Tatum,” Brown said after receiving the award named in honor of Celtics legend Bill Russell. “He was with me the whole time, so we share this shit together.”

With the win, the Celtics finished the playoffs 16-3, just behind the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors (16-1) since the NBA reached four rounds of the best-of-seven playoffs in 2003 in what was a categorical victory. rejection of Boston’s recent playoff disappointments. The Celtics — until their victory Monday night — had gone more playoff games over an eight-season stretch without winning a title than any team in NBA history.

That run included six appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals, including a seven-game loss last year to the Miami Heat after becoming the fourth team to force a Game 7 after falling behind by 3 -0. There was also losing to the Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals after winning two of the first three games and holding a fourth-quarter lead in Game 4, before seeing the Warriors celebrate their fourth title of the Stephen Curry era on the famous Boston floor. .

As a result, the title checked boxes for many of Boston’s best players. For Tatum and Brown, the 107 games they played together was the most by any duo before winning their first championship in NBA history. Horford, meanwhile, had played in 186 playoff games before his first title – the most in NBA history for a single player before winning his first title.

Tatum, meanwhile, had the fifth-most career playoff points at the time of his first championship – behind the late Jerry West, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant.

“Throughout the year, we’ve heard about the Celtics of the past,” Brown said after Game 3. “Over the last six to eight months, all we’ve heard is all the different shortcomings that we’ve had in the past game.

“It’s a new team. We learned from those experiences. And in those moments, you can see we learned from it. We took over and we found a way to win.”

They found him at the end of a journey that began 11 years ago this month at the Barclays Center when the Brooklyn Nets initiated a blockbuster trade with Boston to acquire Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for a host of draft picks, two of which ultimately became Brown and Tatum in the 2016 and 2017 NBA drafts.

Shortly after the draft, Boston reached an agreement to hire Brad Stevens from Butler University to be the team’s head coach, a position he held for the next eight seasons before replacing Danny Ainge, the man who hired Stevens, as team president. basketball operations in 2021.

At that point, Boston was coming off a .500 season in 2020-21 and lost in five games to the Nets in the first round of the playoffs. Since then, Stevens has methodically rebuilt the roster around Brown and Tatum via trades – bringing back Horford that summer and Derrick White at the subsequent trade deadline – which helped Boston advance to the 2022 Finals. Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Heat last spring, Stevens restructured the roster again, trading fan favorite and former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart in a deal to add Porzingis, then rushing to acquire Jrue Holiday after the Milwaukee Bucks traded him. to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Holiday, who won a title with Milwaukee in 2021, had several big performances during these playoffs, including Game 2 of the Finals where he scored 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting while the rest of the team went cold from 3.0-point range. Injuries forced Porzingis to miss all but six of Boston’s playoff games, but he scored 20 points off the bench in Game 1 of the Finals, helping the Celtics get off to a strong start against the Mavericks, before providing a renewed emotion with his return on Monday. night.

Stevens also made the bold decision to promote Joe Mazzulla from the back of the bench to the team’s head coach position following the suspension and eventual firing of Ime Udoka for violating team rules shortly before training camp. Mazzulla was 121-43 in the regular season over the past two years and on Monday became the youngest coach to win an NBA title since Russell did it for the same franchise 55 years ago.

The Celtics had largely controlled the first three games of this series before the Mavericks responded with an absolute demolition of Boston in Dallas on Friday, winning by 38 points in the third-largest blowout in NBA Finals history and the Celtics’ biggest loss of all time. game since the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals.

But Boston responded to that performance with one of its most complete performances of the season in Game 5 – and, as a result, set a new standard for winning in NBA history.

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