Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Celtics 106, Mavericks 88: Jayson Tatum leads the way in Game 5 to clinch record-setting 18th NBA title

The Celtics are 2024 NBA champions following a 106-88 win in Game 5 over the Dallas Mavericks Monday night at TD Garden to clinch the franchise's 18th title.

Jayson Tatum finished with 31 points on 11-of-24 from the field, to go along with eight rebounds and 11 assists, while Jaylen Brown added 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists, as he took home the Bill Russell Finals MVP award.
"I can't even put into words -- the emotions," Brown said in his postgame interview. "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 ball, and we just came out and performed on our home floor. It's just amazing.  You know, it could have gone to anybody. 
"It could have gone to Jayson. Jayson, like I can't talk enough about his selflessness. You know, I can't talk enough about his attitude. It's just how he approached not just this series or the Finals but just the playoffs in general. And we did it together as a team, and that was the most important thing."
Jrue Holiday recorded 15 points, 11 rebounds and Derrick White chipped in 14 points, eight rebounds for the Celtics, who defeated the Mavs 4-1 to win a championship on the same day (June 17th) they did back in 2008 -- the last time they held the Larry O'Brien trophy.

Kristaps Porzingis returned to the lineup after missing Game 3 and 4 due to a rare leg injury. The seven-footer scored five points on four shot attempts in 16 minutes off the bench.
"From this morning, I was preparing myself that I will go out there," Porzingis told reporters. "And, yeah, the medical staff was, like, unbelievable support for me and got me back out there somehow.

"And, man, I'm super thankful for them. And, yeah, I gave everything I could. I gave everything I could. And, man, it feels great to be a champion."
Luka Dončić led the Mavericks with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but turned the ball over seven times, while Kyrie Irving continued his offensive struggles in Boston -- going 5-of-16 for 15 points and nine assists. Josh Green notched 14 points off the bench on 4-of-6 from 3-point territory for Dallas, who were held to an average of 99.2 points in all five NBA Finals games.

The Celtics took a 28-18 lead into the second quarter, before using a 17-7 run to end the first half, which was capped off with a half-court 3-ball from Payton Pritchard to beat the buzzer and give the C's a 67-46 advantage at the break.

White grabbed an offensive board on a missed free throw by Al Horford (nine points, nine rebounds) and it made its way to Brown, as he found a wide-open Holiday underneath the hoop for a layup to put Boston up 78-52 (the largest margin of the night) with 9:10 remaining in the third period.

The Mavericks trailed by 19 to start the final frame, but never got any closer than 18 the rest of the way. Coach Joe Mazzulla won a challenge to get an out of bounds call overturned with Boston ahead 106-85 and Jason Kidd emptied his bench with 2:37 left to play.
"I dreamed about what it would be like," Tatum said in his postgame comments of finally winning a championship. "But this is 10 times better."
The Celtics concluded the 2023-24 season with an 80-21 record, including the playoffs, as the best team in the league wire-to-wire.

For Mazzulla, he becomes the youngest head coach since basketball legend and icon Bill Russell to win an NBA championship at the age of 35-years-old.
"There's nothing better than representing the Celtics and being part of history," Mazzulla said.
Boston enters the off-season as heavy favorites to repeat next year, as they'll look to defend their title. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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