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Boston Celtics beat Dallas Mavericks in NBA finals to win record 18th title

The Boston Celtics beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 on Monday night to claim a record 18th NBA title, one more than their old rivals the Los Angeles Lakers.

“You have very few chances in life to be great … you’ve got to take the bull by the horns and you’ve got to own it, and our guys owned it,” said the Celtics’ 35-year-old coach, Joe Mazzulla, at the trophy presentation ceremony.

What many had expected to be a hard-fought series ended up as a relative stroll, which the Celtics wrapped up with victory on their home court – they led by 21 points at halftime and were never behind the entire night. The series, which the Celtics won 4-1, was never seriously in doubt, even when the Mavericks won Game 4 in a 38-point blowout last Friday. The same could be said for the Celtics’ entire playoff campaign, during which they dropped only three games.

Boston Celtics

“We’ve responded all year and this was no different,” said Celtics forward Jayson Tatum after the game, when asked how the Game 4 blowout affected Monday night’s performance. “We owed our fans, it been a long journey. It’s been a long journey.”

Tatum, who was named in the All-NBA first team for the third time this season, was superb on Monday night, putting up 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. The victory came exactly 16 years after the Celtics last won the NBA title, in 2008.

Jaylen Brown, who had 21 points on the night, was named finals MVP.

“It was a full team effort and I’m going to share this with my brothers and my partner in crime Jayson Tatum, he was with me the whole way,” said Brown, before embracing Tatum.

The Mavericks were never in contention on Monday night. Luka Dončić finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds but was sloppy defensively, committed seven turnovers and missed his first six three-point attempts as Dallas failed to make an early impression on the game.

“I’m proud of every guy that stepped on the floor, all the coaches, all the people behind [the scenes],” said Dončić, who became just the 11th player to score more than 3,000 points in a season. “Obviously, we didn’t win the finals, but we did have a hell of a season and I’m proud of every one of them.”

Dallas’s other star, Kyrie Irving, endured another miserable night against his former team, and finished with just 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting. He has now lost 13 of his last 14 games against the Celtics, who he left in acrimonious circumstances in 2019.

“We finally ran into a team that beat us fair and square,” said Irving, who has been noticeably more calm this season than in years past. “We weren’t able to respond to a lot of their runs. When I was shaking [Celtics players’ hands at the end of the game] that was a sign of respect for their journey, they’ve been through an incredible five-year span.”

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, who won the title with Dallas as a player, was positive despite his team’s loss.

“I thought the group did a great job,” he said of his team’s season. “Yes, we lost [the finals] 4-1 but they fought against the Celtics and unfortunately we just couldn’t make the shots that we had to, or we turned the ball over and they took full advantage [but] there’s lots of positives in this run.”

The championship victory puts an end to a series of near misses for the Celtics. As well as their defeat in the NBA finals two years ago, they had lost in the conference finals in four of the last eight seasons.

“What they gonna say now?” Tatum said when asked about those critics who had said this team could not live up to its promise. “What they gonna say now?”

On Monday, and for most of a season in which they won 80 of their 101 games, it was the Celtics who had the final word.


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