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Banner no. 18: Celtics win 2024 NBA Finals over Mavericks 

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18. That is the magic number for the Boston Celtics.  

The organization now hosts 18 championship banners in TD Garden in Boston, the most in NBA history, thanks to their Game 5 106-88 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on June 17. 

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla appeared to be in awe following the win. His “But first … let me thank God” t-shirt seemed to foreshadow his thankfulness all things considered. 

“Something that has really been going through my mind is that you can’t lose sight of the people who came before us,” Mazzulla said. “I want to make sure that has worked for the Celtics, played for the Celtics that didn’t win knows that their work and what they have done hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

Many took Mazzulla’s response as a ‘thank you’ to former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, now the head coach of the Houston Rockets, and former Celtics point guard Marcus Smart who spent nine seasons with the organization. Udoka also led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in 2022. 

Mazzulla was named the interim coach later that summer following a scandal involving Udoka and another staff member. Smart was traded almost one year ago on June 22, 2023, sending him to the Memphis Grizzlies while the Celtics acquired forward Kristaps Porzingis from Dallas. 

NBA player with champagne during NBA Finals
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum sprays champagne while celebrating after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 to win the NBA basketball finals Monday, June 17, 2024, in Boston. (Photo/AP)

He is also the youngest coach to win an NBA championship since Bill Russell won with the Celtics in 1969. Mazzulla beat Russell by just a couple of weeks. 

The Celtics appeared to have Game 5 in the bag as early as the first half, going up 67-46. The crowd at the Garden went into a frenzy when Celtics shooting guard Payton Pritchard checked into the game for exactly four seconds before hoisting up a 49-foot three-pointer. It is the longest made shot in NBA Finals history.

Despite the loss, the Mavericks backcourt of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving made history, becoming the first duo to amass 1,122 points combined in a single playoff run. 

Doncic did not make any excuses following the loss.  

“It doesn’t matter if I was hurt,” he said. “I was out there. I didn’t do enough.”  

He finished the contest with a team high of 28 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Irving ended with 15 points and nine assists.

Boston point guard Jrue Holiday, who was acquired at the beginning of the 2023-24 season, is now a two-time NBA Champion. Holiday secured his first ring with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021.

Celtics forward Al Horford captured his first NBA championship in the 17th year of his career. When asked what would be next for him, Horford was nearly at a loss for words. 

“Glory to the Lord,” Horford said. “I can’t believe it. It doesn’t seem real to me. It is an unbelievable feeling for me. So many years, so many battles, so many fights … It doesn’t seem real.”

NBA player with trophy after NBA Finals.
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, center, holds up the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy as he celebrates with the team after they won the NBA basketball championship with a Game 5 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, Monday, June 17, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Horford made history by becoming the first Dominican player to win an NBA championship. He also holds the record for the most playoff games played before winning his first NBA championship at 186. 

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was named the Bill Russell Finals MVP only a few weeks after winning the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP following the elimination of the Indiana Pacers. When asked about winning the award, Brown was appreciative. 

“I’m blessed. I’m grateful,” Brown said. “(Finals MVP) could have gone to anybody. It could have gone to Jayson (Tatum). I can’t talk enough about his selflessness … We did it together as a team, and that was the most important thing.” 

Ironically, Brown secured awards named after Celtics Hall of Famers Bird and Russell. Brown finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists. 

“We did it,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum exclaimed as the championship confetti rained down onto him and his son Deuce in a heartfelt moment. Tatum finished the contest with 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. 

Lastly, Tatum, now an NBA Champion after seven seasons, had a message to all his critics: “What are they going to say now?”

Contact multi-media and senior sports reporter Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846 or via email at noralp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on X @3Noral

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