National Basketball Association
Boston Celtics win record-setting 18th NBA title with 106-88 victory over the Dallas Mavericks
National Basketball Association

Boston Celtics win record-setting 18th NBA title with 106-88 victory over the Dallas Mavericks

Updated Jun. 18, 2024 12:38 a.m. ET

A number of Boston Celtics lived down their reputations Monday night. One lived up to it. All of it translated into an 18th championship for the men in green with a 106-88 win over the Dallas Mavericks, breaking a tie with Boston’s hated rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, for the most titles in NBA history.

Jayson Tatum, regarded as a great player a few molecules short of a clutch gene, had a team-leading mark of 31 points and finished two rebounds short of a triple-double. Coach Joe Mazzulla, thought to be too inexperienced and too hands-off to lead a championship team, made a series of deft moves that exploited Dallas’ weaknesses. Jaylen Brown, whose energy and focus on the defensive end often depended on how well he was scoring, did not let an off-night offensively (7-for-23, 21 points) prevent him from harassing Mavericks Luka Doncic into seven turnovers and was rewarded by being selected Finals MVP. Even Kristaps Porzingis, once viewed as too soft to be a consequential big man, had his moments, playing 16 minutes with a left leg injury that had kept him out of Games 3 and 4.

And then there was Jrue Holiday, the lone Celtic who already knew what it took to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy — having done so in 2021 with the Milwaukee Bucks — as the steadying influence the entire night, producing the biggest plus-minus (+21) of the game.

The Mavericks also had a couple of players with championship pedigrees. Kyrie Irving won a ring in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Doncic was a 2018 Euroleague champion. But it did not show, particularly in Game 5. Irving had 15 points on 16 shots. Doncic had more turnovers (seven) than assists (five) and had another tough 3-point shooting performance, going 2 for 9 after an 0-for-8 effort in Game 4.


It took the Mavericks three minutes to score their first points, a lob from Doncic to Derrick Jones Jr. for a dunk. It would be another two minutes before they scored again, on a 3-point play by Doncic, giving Boston a chance to build an early 13-5 lead. 

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla then went for the kill shot, inserting Kristaps Porzingis with just under 7 minutes left in the first quarter. This was Porzingis’ first appearance since Game 2, after which he was diagnosed with a fairly uncommon left leg injury, a torn medial retinaculum, which allows dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon, for those scoring at home. 

He had been a rock star through the first two games, coming off the bench to provide a combination of rim protection (five blocks) and scoring (32 points) that proved pivotal in the first two games. 

Not this time. The Mavericks attacked him with a series of pick-and-rolls, and with Porzingis standing in the paint, his Dallas assignment — Josh Green twice and Dante Exum once — buried open 3-pointers.

But that was the only brief stretch in which Dallas won the battle from beyond the arc. No one invested in the 3-point shot this season more than Boston. First in the league in 3-pointers attempted, first in 3-pointers made, second in 3-point percentage. That quality showed as they built a 21-point halftime lead by making 10 of 21 3s while the Mavericks missed 13 of their first 19 attempts.

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has written two books, "Rebound," on NBA forward Brian Grant's battle with young onset Parkinson's, and "Yao: A Life In Two Worlds." He also has a daily podcast, "On The Ball with Ric Bucher." Follow him on Twitter @RicBucher.

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