Boston Celtics capture historic 18th NBA title with 106-88 Game 5 victory over Dallas Mavericks

Damond Isiaka
7 Min Read


CNN
 — 

The storied Boston Celtics are once again alone atop the list of teams with the most NBA titles – and their formidable duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown showed up in a big way to make it happen.

The Celtics beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Boston on Monday night to win the series 4-1 and secure their league-record 18th title.

Celtics star Tatum had a game-high 31 points, along with 11 assists and eight rebounds, while fellow standout Brown added 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

“It’s a surreal feeling. We did it! We did it!” Tatum shouted on the ABC broadcast after the game. “This is an incredible feeling. I’m lost for words.”

Brown was named the NBA Finals MVP after averaging 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and five assists per game in the series. After accepting the Bill Russell Trophy in front of this home fans, Brown attributed part of his success to Tatum, who also made a case to win MVP.

“It was a full team effort and I share this with my brothers and my partner in crime, Jayson Tatum. He was with me the whole way,” Brown said.

This is the Celtics’ first championship since 2008, and it moves Boston past the Lakers franchise (17 won in Minneapolis and Los Angeles) to sit alone atop the list of clubs with the most titles in NBA history.

The Mavericks had been trying to become the first team in NBA history to recover from an 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series. They avoided a sweep by beating the Celtics 122-84 in Game 4 in Dallas on Friday – but that just set the stage for the Celtics to win the title on their home floor.

The Celtics' Jaylen Brown, No. 7, was named the NBA Finals MVP. He scored 21 points Monday, and averaged 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and five assists per game in the series.

A half-court shot put an exclamation point on Boston’s dominant first half

In the first quarter, Boston played controlled basketball, while the Mavericks started off cold, making only one of their first nine field goal attempts. Just as Dallas found its rhythm to get back within one point, Boston erupted with a 9-0 run to close out the quarter with a 28-18 lead.

The Celtics kept the pressure on in the second quarter, stretching their lead to as many as 21 points. At the center of Boston’s impressive performance was the Celtics’ formidable Tatum and Brown, who combined for 31 points in the first half.

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Boston put an exclamation point on the dominant first half with a half-court buzzer beater from Payton Pritchard to send the crowd at TD Garden into a frenzy. The shot gave the Celtics their biggest lead of the half at 67-46.

In the second half, Boston never relented, leading by as many as 26 points. Every time the Mavericks saw a glimmer of hope, the Celtics would quickly respond.

For the Mavericks, star guard Luka Dončić – who finished third in season MVP voting – had 28 points and 12 rebounds Monday, while Kyrie Irving added 15 points, on 5-of-16 shooting, and nine assists. Celtics guard Jrue Holiday had 15 points and 11 rebounds, while playing relentless defense to hold the Mavericks stars in check.

After finishing the season with the NBA’s best record at 64-18, the Celtics’ domination continued into the playoffs, highlighted by a franchise-record 10-game postseason win streak.

In the first round, the Celtics dispatched the Miami Heat 4-1, avenging their loss in a rematch of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston then routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1, securing their third consecutive conference finals appearance, a feat last achieved during their five-year run between 1984-1988.

The road to the Finals is generally supposed to become increasingly difficult as teams advance further into the playoffs. For Boston, however, that did not seem to be the case. The Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals and needed five games to close out the Mavericks in the Finals.

After losing in the Finals to the Golden State Warriors in 2022 and being upset in the Eastern Conference Finals by the Miami Heat last year, the Celtics made a couple of big swings last offseason to construct a fearsome five-man unit.

Multiple-time All-Stars Holiday and Kristaps Porziņģis (formerly a Maverick) were acquired via trade, with the latter’s recent return from injury proving to be a big boost for Boston.

The pair are accompanied by overqualified role-player Derrick White, but it was Tatum and Brown who were the true difference makers.

Tatum told the ABC broadcast following the championship win that the Celtics stayed focused despite mounting pressure going into Game 5.

“We have a resilient group, we’ve been through a lot as a team over these last couple of years, over my seven years. What they going to say now?” Tatum said.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Samuel Joseph contributed to this report.

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