Celtics Secure Historic 18th NBA Championship Using Game 5 Win Over Mavs

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics, NBA News, Dallas Mavericks
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics defeated the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 in the NBA Finals, securing their record-setting 18th NBA championship. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the way for the Celtics.

In addition to Tatum’s 31 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 assists, Finals MVP Brown added 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. With this victory, the Celtics now have the most titles in NBA history, surpassing their rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, for the 16th time.

“This is going to be a night that I will remember for the rest of my life,” Tatum said. “Over the last couple years, we had some tough losses at home in the playoffs. We’ve lost the NBA championship at home in front of our fans. We had a chance to beat Miami in Game 6 a few years ago and lost that one. So to have a big win – the biggest win that you could have in front of your home crowd – I felt like that was really important to go out there and do everything in my power to make sure we won this game tonight.”

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The Celtics bounced back from a disappointing Game 4 loss with a dominant Game 5. After the first half, the home crowd at the TD Garden was enthused by Payton Pritchard‘s half-court shot, which gave the team a 21-point advantage.

The energy was palpable, especially when Kristaps Porzingis came off the bench and provided crucial minutes. He fought through an injury that will now require surgery and a multi-month injury rehab process. He knew if he provided one last boost, it could be enough to clinch the series and cement the team as champions. Boston outscored Dallas by a team-best 33-point margin in 60 minutes. Porzinigs played and was outscored by a team-worst 21 points in 180 minutes without him. His stretch-big impact while being impactful in attacking mismatches and being a shot-blocking presence was key.

“Man, from day one when I came in, my mindset was I’m going to give everything to this team and this city to try to win a championship here because I knew these guys have already been so close,” Porzingis said. “Yeah, once I got hurt, it was a heartbreaking moment for me. I didn’t want to accept the truth. It was like, no way it happened, right. But, yeah, tonight was the night. I was like, listen, I’m going to give it everything I have. 

“I’m just super happy to be a part of this and give something to the team, and I’m super thankful for the support I’ve gotten from the fans. And tonight the arena was electric,” Porzingis explained. “It’s been unbelievable playing in front of these fans.”

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Luka Doncic finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists, but it wasn’t enough with most of his teammates struggling to make an impact. Brown’s impact in the series earned him the Finals MVP. He averaged 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5 assists while being the most frequent on-ball defender, taking on the challenge of trying to contain Doncic throughout the series.

“I can’t even put into words the emotions,” Brown said. “It’s just I’m blessed, and I’m grateful. This was a full team effort. We had a great team. My teammates were great. They allowed me to lead us on both ends of the ball, and we just came out and performed on our home floor. It’s just amazing.”

After ineffective performances in the series’ earlier games, Kyrie Irving struggled in Game 5 against his former team, scoring 15 points and shooting 5 of 16 overall. Between Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, and others, Boston contained him to averaging 19.8 points and 5.0 assists, with three performances featuring 16 points or less.  

Since the NBA adopted a best-of-seven format for all playoff rounds in 2003, the Celtics’ 16-3 record in the playoffs ranks second only to the Golden State Warriors’ 16-3 record in 2016-17. In addition to this victory, the Celtics have ended a run of postseason disappointments, including six appearances in the Eastern Conference finals and a heartbreaking loss to the Warriors in the NBA Finals in 2022.

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Horford ended his title drought after playing 186 playoff games before winning a championship. “The first thing you have to do when you come here is you have to embrace that pressure,” he said. “And I was OK with being in that position. I was OK if we were getting criticized and we weren’t getting it done because I understood what it means playing here.”

The Celtics’ decisive Game 5 victory, following a blowout loss in Game 4, showcased their resilience and determination while remaining level-headed regardless of game-by-game outcomes with the big picture in mind.

“This is unreal. I don’t think it really has hit and settled in,” White said. “This is a special group of guys, a special coaching staff that I’m just thankful to be a part of. Yeah, it’s unreal. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment and not get too lit.”

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The Celtics have a solid outlook to defend their title next season, with every rotation player signed to a contract. Tatum and Brown are in their prime, while the rest of the supporting cast appears to have a lot left to give, including Holiday, who celebrated his 34th birthday during the team’s run. 

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