For The 18th Time, Yes, Celtics Are Champions

From start to finish, the Boston Celtics pretty much dominated the NBA — especially at the finish. And now, they are NBA champions once again.Jayson Tatum, Celtics

In fact, their 106-88 home win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the Finals marked the 18th title in franchise history, surpassing the Los Angeles Lakers for most in league history. Celtic Pride, it seems, has been entirely restored.

It also marked the first championship for team stalwarts Jayson Tatum and Finals MVP Jaylen Brown, who were already on their way to going down in Celtics lore. Now, they’ve cemented their spots.

This year, they had plenty of help after some deft offseason moves from former coach-turned-front-office-man Brad Stevens, who landed forward Kristaps Porzingis and guard Jrue Holiday, offering additional length, depth, and know-how at winning time.

Then there’s coach Joe Mazzulla, who sort of fell into the job after ex-coach Ime Udoka was suspended before the start of last season. Mazzulla just happened to be in the right place at the right (or wrong) time and took full advantage. This roster truly responded to his laid-back, professional approach.

Anyone who saw how the Celtics pretty much cruised through the playoffs — with only an occasional hiccup — could tell you that. Boston lost one game in the first round, one in the second, none in the East finals, and one in the actual Finals. So make it 16-3 in the postseason after finishing a league-best 64-18 in the regular season. Yet not a whole lot of people pegged the Celtics as heavy favorites.

Turns out, they were exactly that.

They did it with great talent and cohesiveness on offense, yes. But without a doubt, the Celtics’ smoldering defense made things that much more impressive. Nothing ever came easily for the Mavs and backcourt stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

With the exception of a Game 4 letdown, Boston made every dribble, pass, and shot a major challenge. 

Now, Dallas has nothing to hang its head about — reaching the Finals one year after failing to qualify for even the play-in tournament. But Boston was a terrible matchup, the Celtics’ size, experience and athleticism at the wing spots proving to be way too much.

Not surprisingly, Tatum (31 points) and Brown (21) led the way, with key contributions again coming from the likes of Holiday (15), Derrick White (14) Porzingis and Al Horford.

Doncic paced the Mavs with 28 points and 12 rebounds, though Irving (15 points, 5-of-16 shooting) could never really get it going on the road against his former team. But this season, not many could. The Celtics were just that good.

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