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Celtics make history with Banner 18

Jimmy Myers
Celtics make history with Banner 18
Boston Celtics Star Jason Taytum holds up the Larry O’brien Trophy after the Green Defeat the Dallas Mavericks 106-88. PHOTO: BOSTON CELTICS/NBA

For a record 18th time, the Boston Celtics are the champions of the National Basketball Association. Those words are echoed loud and clear throughout professional sports following the team’s 106-88 demolition of the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, June 17. That June 17 date is now a permanent part of the illustrious Boston Celtics lore, and, significantly, it marks 16 years to the day that the team won the NBA title number 17 in 2008.

The 16-year journey to Banner 18 has been arduous and painful for the team’s fan base. But that all ended when the final buzzer sounded on Monday, sending the sellout crowd inside TD Garden —  along with the thousands in the streets outside the arena — into a state of total euphoria.

NBA championship number 18 will be remembered as a statement about the value of “team basketball” —  a mantra that has been the staple of this team’s history.

Scene inside the TD Garden BANNER PHOTO

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum played the major starring roles. Still, the collective efforts of teammates Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Al Horford, Kristaps Porzingis, Sam Hauser and others elevated the Celtics to the top. Brown, with 21 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and strong defense on Mavericks star Luka Doncic (28 points on 12-for-26 shooting, 2-for-9 from 3-point range), was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player. Teammate Tatum led the Celtics Monday night with 31 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.  Holiday (15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists) and White (14 points, eight rebounds) made significant contributions.

Holiday got the team off to a flying start with six early points and solid all-court play. He was ‘the glue,’ an exceptional player who excels in every facet of the game, especially making his teammates better with his unselfish play. This humble man, who came to the Celtics by way of trade the day before the start of training camp, stated, “This is a special group. These men accepted me right from the start, which made me feel comfortable and wanted. It is a privilege to play with them.” 

This from a man who had already won an NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021.

Holiday and White teamed up to form one of the best backcourts in the NBA this season.

White, with a chipped tooth, the result of diving on the floor for a loose ball during one of the Celtics runs, echoed Holiday’s sentiments: “This team sacrificed for each other all year to reach this goal. I would have given up all my teeth to win this NBA title.”

Seventeen-year NBA veteran Horford (nine points, nine rebounds), overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment, talked about the journey to his first NBA championship ring. “It was a very long road to get to this moment, but it was all worth it,” he said.

As for the game itself, The Celts took charge from the opening minutes and ran away from the Mavericks. A 9-0 spurt pushed them to a double-digit lead, which ballooned to a 21-point advantage at intermission, thanks to a half-court 3-point shot (heave) from Celtics backup guard Payton Pritchard — his second such shot in this NBA Finals series.

The Mavericks offered little resistance in the second half, and never seriously challenged the Celts.

Finals MVP Jaylen Brown
holds the Bill Russell NBA Finals
Most Valuable Player award. PHOTO:
CELTICS/NBA

“We never let up,” Brown said. “We were determined to close out this series on our home court. It is very satisfying to finally win an NBA title. We did this as a team.”

Tatum said, “This is surreal. I thank God for this moment. At the start of the playoffs, I said that I would take less shots so that my teammates would be more involved in the offense. It all worked out perfectly.”

Joe Mazzulla, the Celts’ 35-year-old coach, summed it up this way: “I am extremely proud of this team. I am grateful that they allowed me to coach them. I am sure that I speak for the entire team and Celtics organization when I say that we will cherish this NBA championship for the rest of our lives.”

While the champagne was flowing, there was already talk of how many more NBA titles this team could win, considering that main stars Tatum, 26, and Brown, 27, are still in the early stages of their careers. That is a future discussion. For now, Celtics fans should be preparing for a victory parade that will take place on Friday, June 21. There was a 16-year wait between Banner 17 and Banner 18. This moment is to be enjoyed.

Congratulations to the 2023-24 NBA champion Boston Celtics —  a team that set several franchise records, including a 16-3 playoff season, en route to its 18th championship, the most in NBA history.