Celtics — led by Jayson Tatum and series MVP Jaylen Brown — dominate Mavericks in Game 5 to secure franchise’s 18th NBA championship

For the 18th time in franchise history, the Boston Celtics are NBA champions.

The Celtics closed the first quarter of Monday’s NBA Finals Game 5 on a 9-0 run and never looked back en route to a dominant 106-88 win over the Dallas Mavericks. The win secured a 4-1 win in the NBA Finals and the franchise’s first title since 2008.

The Celtics set the tone from the opening tip as they took the floor for the first time in these Finals wearing their classic green uniforms. They proceeded to put on a performance worthy of those colors. It was also worthy of a team that rolled to an NBA-best 64 wins in the regular season and produced advanced metrics that rank among the best in league history.

They did it on Monday with defense. They did it with 3s. They did it with stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way. It was an optimal conclusion to a seminal Celtics season.

Boston fired the first shot Monday, opening a 9-2 lead with its first three buckets scored by Jrue Holiday. Dallas punched back and closed the gap to 19-18 in the final two minutes of the quarter. But the 9-0 run to close the quarter pushed the Boston lead to 28-18.

The second quarter saw more of the same and ended with a buzzer-beating Payton Pritchard heave from beyond halfcourt to extend the Boston lead to 21 points.

Dallas never recovered.

There was no Celtics letdown after halftime. Boston extended its lead to as much as 26 points in the third quarter and never let Dallas again sniff striking distance. The fourth quarter was a coronation.

After watching Brown, Holiday and Kristaps Porziņģis take headlining roles throughout the Finals, Tatum took the reins Monday night as a scorer and playmaker. He led the game with 31 points and 11 assists alongside eight rebounds and two steals. He turned the ball over just twice.

When it was done, he buried his face in his hands as confetti fell from the rafters, overwhelmed with emotion. He then celebrated with his son, Jayson Jr.

Brown added 21 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. For the series, he averaged 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and five assists, an effort that earned him Finals MVP honors. He can add the trophy to his collection alongside his Eastern Conference finals MVP hardware and forever silence the critics of his supermax contract and his left hand.

Derrick White once again came up big on both sides of the floor with 14 points, eight rebounds, two steals and one block. He paced the Celtics from long distance on a 4-of-8 effort.

Holiday — now the missing piece that completed a championship run for two different franchises — added 15 points, a team-high 11 rebounds and four assists.

As a team, the Celtics dominated the glass with a 51-35 rebounding edge. They forced 13 Mavericks turnovers while giving the ball away just seven times. Concluding a running theme throughout the series, Boston secured a significant edge at the free throw line with a 17-of-20 (85%) effort. Dallas struggled again while shooting 7-of-13 (53.8%).

The Celtics slowed down from 3 after halftime in a 13-of-39 (33.3%) overall effort. But they built their 21-point halftime edge while shooting 10-of-21 (47.6%) from beyond the arc.

A Mavericks team that staved off a sweep with a blowout in Game 4 appeared to leave everything on the floor in Dallas. The Mavericks were outmatched and outplayed from the opening tip Monday night and provided little challenge to an overwhelming Celtics unit.

Luka Dončić led Dallas with 28 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three steals. He struggled from 3 (2 of 9) and continued to provide little resistance on defense. He turned the ball over seven times.

Former Celtic Kyrie Irving — who appeared overwhelmed in Games 1 and 2 in Boston — struggled again Monday night on a 5-of-16 effort from the floor as he was repeatedly jeered by the home crowd. He finished with 15 points and nine assists.

For the Celtics, the championship alters legacies on multiple levels.

In the grand scheme, the Celtics reclaimed sole possession atop the list of all-time NBA champions, no longer tied with bitter rival the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers had previously won eight titles against Boston’s one since 1986, including three unanswered since 2008 to tie the Celtics with 17 titles. Boston stands alone once again with its 18th championship.

Tatum and Brown are now certified. The All-Star teammates were repeatedly questioned and criticized for coming up short on the biggest of stages in their previous six seasons as the shared faces of the franchise. They were flummoxed in two Eastern Conference finals by the Miami Heat and watched Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors celebrate a championship at TD Garden in 2022. Those questions linger no more.

Jayson Tatum starred on Monday's championship-clinching victory over Dallas. (Elsa/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum starred on Monday's championship-clinching victory over Dallas. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Tatum and Brown now join a hallowed list featuring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, JoJo White, Dave Cowens, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy and Bill Russell in leading a franchise synonymous with greatness to championship glory.

President of basketball operations Brad Stevens took his unique basketball mind from the Celtics sideline to the front office in 2021. Never satisfied with coming up short, he continually tinkered with the roster and ultimately made championship-building moves, including acquiring Al Horford, Holiday, White and Porziņģis — decisions that coincided with difficult calls like parting with franchise favorite Marcus Smart and All-Star Kemba Walker.

Head coach Joe Mazzulla — promoted in 2022 amid the scandalous exit of Ime Udoka — drew fire throughout his first season leading the team that ended short of the NBA Finals. Now, he’s a champion in his second season as an NBA head coach.

For these Celtics, this championship isn't viewed as an end, but a beginning. Tatum (26 years old) and Brown (27) are just reaching their primes and have their sights set on further cementing their names into Celtics franchise glory. But what a beginning this championship season was.

  • The Celtics are the champions of the NBA

    Led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston defeats Dallas, 106-88, in Game 5 in Boston to win the franchise's 18th NBA championship. Tatum had 31 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds, and Brown had 21 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

  • MVP?

    The MVP chants have been for both Brown and Tatum at the foul line tonight. A split vote, it seems.

  • Not sure I've ever seen a player who cannot perform well in a particular building, like this with Kyrie.

  • Dallas has had its chances. 7-of-29 from 3. Many of them wide open. Doncic and Irving are 1-of-12 from 3.

  • Celtics lead 86-67 after 3 quarters

    Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have combined for 37 points for Boston, Kyrie Irving has 9 points on 3-of-12 shooting for Dallas as the Celtics lead 86-67.

  • The Celtics only have 9 second-chance points, off 12 offensive rebounds. But the way this home crowd reacts to each board has sucked some life out of Dallas little by little.

  • Luka Doncic now 1 for his 21 3-point attempts in the NBA Finals

  • Josh Green wants to extend this series! Dude is 4-of-4 from deep.

  • Luka settling

    Luka is just settling for jumpers. Whether it's injury, fatigue or whatever, he has not even tried to get to the rim. Had Al Horford all alone at the top of the key and didn't even consider trying anything other than his step-back, and he's now 0-of-5 from three.

  • Al Horford still strong

    Al Horford is 17 years older than Dereck Lively II and just used every ounce of his old man strength to bully him under the basket and draw a foul. Strong start to the third quarter for Horford.

  • Celtics hitting their 3s

    That Al Horford 3 gets the Celtics up to 12-of-23 from distance. Seven members of Boston's eight-man rotation have connected from deep. (Porzingis is the exception.) They are outscoring Dallas by 18 points from the arc.

  • Tatum getting it done

    Jayson Tatum's first half: 16 points, four rebounds, nine assists, zero turnovers. But what's been most impressive is the fact he's seeming to exorcise his demons of not getting to the rim and finishing enough. All of his makes besides that step-back 3 at the end of the second quarter have come in the paint and at the rim.

  • Celtics lead 67-46 at halftime

    Payton Pritchard hits another half-court 3-point bomb as the second quarter expires to give the Celtics a 67-46 halftime lead.

  • Luka struggling

    2-of-8 for Luka for just 5 points. He's got 3 turnovers, and it feels like a lot more based on the lack of impact. He's botching pretty much all of the mid-range looks that he could not miss in Game 4.

  • Luka needs some smelling salts, some No-Doze. He has just not been engaged. He’s not playing with force. He’s sleepwalking.

  • Celtics go small with Tatum at center, offering little protection, and a couple quick bunnies get the Mavericks back to single digits. Tatum calls a quick timeout, presumably to get a big in there.

  • Luka again struggling from the foul line. He's just 1-of-3 tonight. He entered tonight 15-of-24 in the ser. Bizarre inconsistency there from an All-NBA player who's a career 75% shooter from the line.

  • Jayson Tatum delivering

    Jayson Tatum is on early triple-double watch, posting an 11-4-7 in his first 17 minutes. His outside shot still isn't falling, but he's getting to the rim against Dallas' bigs. Still seven minutes to play in the second quarter.

  • Dallas is getting plenty from Derrick Jones Jr. He's hit a corner three. He's putting his head down and getting to the basket. He finished a lob. His last drive just drew two foul shots. And yet the Mavs are still down 12.

  • Kyrie just hit his first 3-pointer in Boston this series. It was matched immediately by Jrue Holiday hitting one at the other end.

  • The "let it fly" mantra has the Celtics 5-of-12 from 3. Tatum has been facilitating with six assists.

  • Luka played all 12 minutes of the first quarter. He's on the bench to start the second, but walking back to the scorer's table just over a minute into this frame.

  • Maxi Kleber continues to be an absolute zero on offense. With the season on the line, you have to wonder how much more run Jason Kidd is going to give Dallas' veteran big, even with his switchability on defense.

  • Celtics lead Mavs, 28-18, after 1 quarter

    Celtics close the first quarter on a 9-0 run, forcing turnovers and getting out in transition. The crowd is snowballing here. Boston is winning points in the paint, 16-6, and fast-break points, 8-0, to take a 28-18 lead.

  • All three of Dallas' made threes have come out of screening action where Porzingis' man popped for a triple. The latest being Dante Exum.

  • Porzingis cannot move. Dunno if he should be out there.

  • Porzingis has given up three wide-open 3s in his opening minutes, two of which the Mavericks have connected on. The Mavs are back to within two.

  • Kristaps Porzingis getting crazy cheers upon his entrance. And "KP" chants too

  • Jrue Holiday, often with Luka Doncic guarding him, has been so active screening and rolling into the paint — both as a scorer and a passer.

  • Boston looks like it wants it too badly, if there’s such a thing. The energy leads to trying too hard. And sooner than later you’ll have to play off more than emotion. Still Boston is up 9-2.

  • Much of Dallas' Game 4 win was Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both having terrific games, but also the "others" connecting from deep and scoring with relative ease. The Mavs are 0-of-5 from distance to start this game, with Derrick Jones Jr. missing a wide-open corner three off a ridiculous over-the-head find from Luka.

  • And ... we get the first "Kyrie sucks!" chant of the night — a loud one — during a jump ball.

    It feels a little like a Game 7 to open this one. Nobody can hit a shot beyond the restricted area — until Al Horford drains a 3 to put the Celtics up 9-2 at the 7:26 mark. The 3 forces an early Dallas timeout.

  • Surviving the early run is gonna be critical. Every time Boston hits a couple shots, this place will explode

  • For those who care about such things ... this is the first time Boston is wearing green all series.

  • On the opening possession, Jayson Tatum finds Jrue Holiday on a slip screen for a layup. The Celtics attempted just nine shots from the paint in their Game 4 blowout loss. The bucket draws a deafening roar from the crowd.

  • The booing for Public Enemy No. 1, 2 and 3 — Kyrie Irving — is palpable. They’ll never forgive.

  • This crowd is definitely fired up ... for nobody more than Kristaps Porzingis. The injured center was the last Boston player to take the court for pregame warmups just before tipoff, and TD Garden gave him a raucous ovation.