The Boston Celtics began the 2024 NBA season as the favorites to win the title. They resoundingly fulfilled expectations by engineering one of the most commanding postseason showings in the history of the league.

They will not be viewed in the same vein as some of the sport’s most imposing teams dating back to the Celtics squads of the 1960s. However, measured against their contemporaries and this season’s peers, the current iteration of the Celtics is damn good.

They ended the regular season 64-18, seven games better than the 57-25 Oklahoma City Thunder, which had the second best mark. In four playoff series, the Celtics were 16-3 and didn’t lose more than one game in each. They outplayed their opponents the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers and Dallas Mavericks in succession in virtually every facet of basketball, a veritable declaration of “anything you can do, we can do better!”

The Eastern Conference champions, in vanquishing the Western Conference’s Dallas Mavericks 4-1 in the finals, finishing them off on Monday night by 106-88 in an absolute statement of superiority, captured the franchise’s 18th title in a decisive performance, placing them one championship ahead of the Lakers 17 for the most since the NBA’s inaugural 1946-47 season.

“It was a full team effort,” said Celtics guard-forward Jaylen Brown, after being awarded the Bill Russell Finals MVP, named after the late, great center, who won 11 titles as the anchor of the Celtics.

“I share this with my brothers and my partner in crime Jayson Tatum—he was with me the whole way so we share this together.”

The 6-6 Brown is the heart of the current Celtics unit. He averaged 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5 assists versus the Mavericks. Yet, it is his internal fortitude, will, relentless intensity, dogged defense, and physicality that frame who he is more than numbers.
Tatum, a three-time All-NBA First Team selection was the best player on the court in the close out game, posting a stat line of 31 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds. Jrue Holiday, a 2021 champion with the Milwaukee Bucks, playing in his first season with Boston, proved to be the coalescing component to a team that lost in the finals to the Golden State Warriors in 2022 and made it to the East finals four of the past five campaigns, at last breaking through on Monday under 35-year-old, second year head coach Joe Mazzulla, the youngest head coach to win a title since Russell did it in 1969 at 34 as a player-coach.  
“You get very few chances in life to be great,” Mazzulla said. “When you have few chances in life, you just got to take the bull by the horns and you got to just own it.”

Dallas’ offensively dynamic backcourt tandem of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving weren’t able to solve Boston’s swarming defense, which constantly bodied them, contested perimeter shots, challenged attempts at the rim, and ultimately wore them down. Without much scoring help from their teammates, Doncic and Irving were essentially neutralized. The Game 5 defeat was Irving’s 13 in 14 meetings against his former team since departing in free-agency in July 2019.

“We finally ran into a team where they beat us fair and square,” he said afterwards. “And we weren’t able to respond to a lot of their runs and we weren’t able to execute at a high level.”

It was an experience the entire NBA succumbed to facing the Celtics. 

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