Top NewsNBA Finals: Celtics win 18th NBA Championship, defeating Mavericks...

NBA Finals: Celtics win 18th NBA Championship, defeating Mavericks 106-88 in Game 5

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BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum put his hands behind his head as TD Garden fans stood on their feet and cheered around him.

Walked to the bench and wrapped both arms around Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla.

The journey is over.

The Boston Celtics stand out among the NBA champions once again.

Tatum had 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, breaking a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in league history, and the Celtics topped the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 on Monday night to win the franchise’s 18th championship.

Boston’s latest title came on the 16th anniversary of hoisting its last Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2008. It marks the 13th championship won this century by one of the city’s Big 4 professional sports franchises.

“It’s the world,” Tatum said onstage after receiving the trophy from NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “It’s been a long time. And I am grateful.

Jaylen Brown added 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists and was voted NBA Finals MVP.

“I share this with my brothers and my partner in crime, Jayson Tatum,” Brown said after the 107th career playoff game he and Tatum played together — the most of any duo before winning the title.

Jrue Holiday finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Center Kristaps Porzingis also provided an emotional lift, returning from a two-game absence due to a sprained ligament in his left ankle to chip in five points in 17 minutes.

They Celtics went 16-3 in the postseason and finished with an 80-21 overall record. That .792 winning percentage is second in team history behind the Celtics’ 1985-86 championship team that finished 82-18 (.820).

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Mazzulla, in his second season, at age 35, became the youngest coach to lead a team to a championship since Phil Russell in 1969.

“You’re very unlikely to be great in life,” Mazzulla said.

Luka Doncic finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas, which failed to extend the streak except for a 38-point win in Game 4. The Mavericks are 3-0 this postseason in Game 5s in which Doncic has at least scored. 31 points in each.

Kyrie Irving finished with just 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting and lost 13 of the last 14 meetings against the Celtics, the team he left to join the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019.

NBA teams are now 0-157 in postseason series after falling from 3-0 deficits.

Feeding off the energy of the Garden crowd, Boston trailed by 26 and didn’t lead.

Dallas was within 16-15 before the Celtics closed the first quarter on a 12-3 run, including eight combined points by Tatum and Brown.

The Celtics did it again in the second quarter when the Mavericks cut a 15-point deficit to nine. Boston closed the period with a 19-7 spurt, capped by a half-court buzzer beater by Payton Pritchard — his second shot of the series — to give Boston a 67-46 halftime lead.

In the final two minutes of the first and second quarters, the Celtics outscored the Mavericks 22-4.

The Celtics never looked back.

Russell’s widow, Jeanine Russell, and her daughter Karen Russell were at TD Garden to salute the new generation of Celtic champions.

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They saw current Celtics stars Tatum and Brown get their first rings. It was the same trade that sent 2008 champions Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in 2013 and used draft picks to select Brown and Tatum overall in 2016 and 2017.

The All-Stars came into their own this season, leading a Celtics team that made the most 3-pointers and the league’s best-rated defense during the regular season.

The two have qualified for the Eastern Conference Finals as teammates the previous four times.

They finally reached the finish line with a fifth deep playoff run.

After the duo struggled offensively at times in the series, Tatum and Brown hit a groove in Game 5, combining for 31 points and 11 assists in the first half.

This postseason helped Boston exhibit all the traits that have made it one of the NBA’s most formidable teams — spreading teams, sharing the ball and wreaking havoc on defense.

And it’s a headwind for the Celtics, who lost in the Finals to the Golden State Warriors in 2022 and then failed to return last season after losing in Game 7 to the Miami Heat.

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NBA AP: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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