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The Celtics Secured Their 18th Championship With An Emphatic Game 5 Win Over The Mavs

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The Larry O’Brien trophy is returning to Boston. After looking limp and cracking the door open to make the bad kind of NBA history on Friday night after an embarrassing performance in Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals, the Celtics painted a masterpiece in front of their home fans on Monday night. As a result, Boston made the best kind of NBA history, as the team picked up a 106-88 win to pick up the franchise’s 18th championship, breaking a record with their rival Los Angeles Lakers for the most in NBA history.

Boston looked like it was ready to be crowned champions from the jump, as the team raced out to a 9-2 lead at the very start of the game. Not long after that, Joe Mazzulla went to his bench and put in Kristaps Porzingis, who missed the last two games due to a foot injury and received a monstrous ovation from the crowd at TD Garden.

The problem was, this looked like a terrible idea for stretches. Porzingis gave the Celtics nothing on either end of the floor for most of his time out there, as he stood behind the three-point line and missed his only attempt from the field and repeatedly got targeted by the ruthless Mavs offense.

And then, something clicked. After Dallas got the lead down to one point, Boston caught fire to end the period, as it closed things by scoring nine consecutive points. The home crowd came unglued as the Celtics found themselves up 28-18 after the opening period.

The duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown spearheaded the Boston attack in the second quarter, with the team’s All-Star duo playing like they had absolutely no intention of returning to Dallas. The pair played absolutely beautiful basketball off of one another, which opened things up for everyone else on the roster.

Slowly but surely, the Boston lead grew, as the Celtics scored 39 points in the second and routinely shredded the vaunted Mavericks defense. And as the quarter came to an end, Boston landed a knockout blow by way of their halfcourt shot specialist, Payton Pritchard. After Luka Doncic missed a free throw, Al Horford grabbed the board and immediately got the ball to Pritchard, who pulled up from the Celtics’ end of the floor, drilled it, and nearly blew the roof off of the building.

As a result, Boston took an emphatic, 67-46 lead into the locker room, with Tatum’s 16 points and nine assists leading the way. Brown went for 15 points, while Jrue Holiday had 11 points and six boards. In addition to the offensive excellence Boston showed, the team shot down both Doncic and Kyrie Irving, who combined for 14 points on 6-for-18 shooting from the floor — Derrick Jones Jr. actually led the team with 10 first half points.

The lid looked like it was on the rim for the Celtics in the third quarter, as the team only scored 19 points in the frame and only made two of their 10 shots from behind the three-point line. But unlike past games where the team’s offense hitting a cold spell meant Boston’s defense slipped just a bit, the team continued to lock in on that end of the floor and put the clamps on Dallas.

This meant that, while the Mavs were able to go on a 13-4 run to trim a 26-point lead down to 17, Boston was able to compose itself, continue to lock in on the defensive end, and keep them from getting any closer. And as the quarter came to an end, the Celtics were up 86-67, and would only miss out on the 18th championship in franchise history if a disaster happened.

It’s hard to know exactly the moment that the crowd in Boston knew that the series was going to end on Monday night. Perhaps it was when they walked in, perhaps it was in the first quarter, perhaps it was after Pritchard made his halfcourt heave. But if there was any doubt into the fourth quarter, it presumably went away in one of two moments: When Derrick White blocked Dereck Lively II at the rim, or when Porzingis threw down a dunk to get the team’s lead back up to 21 points and force timeout by Jason Kidd.

The rest of the fourth quarter was a mere formality — at no point did it seem like Dallas was going to have enough of anything on either end of the floor to make this a game. Every basket Doncic or Irving made seemed like it was just an effort to pad stats on a night where they did nothing to pad their stats for three quarters, while Boston — knowing full well that they had one hand on the Larry O’Brien trophy — did not ever show signs of slipping up.

And with just over two minutes left, Mazzulla started to let his guys get curtain calls. Horford, the venerated center who had never won a ring before in his lengthy career, was the first to go to the bench. Brown and Tatum were next, and not long after, Holiday and White got their moments of celebration. The clocked kept ticking down to zero, and when the horn sounded, confetti started to cover the floor at TD Garden as the tears streamed down the faces of the Celtics players.

Tatum led all scorers on the night with 31 points, along with 11 assists, eight rebounds, and two steals. Brown had 21 points, right rebounds, six assists, and two steals, while Holiday had a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards. Doncic had 28 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and three steals for the Mavs, while Irving had 15 points and Josh Green scored 14 off the bench.