Tatum and Brown Reach NBA Summit, Lead Celtics to Banner 18

Jun 17, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with guard Jaylen Brown (7) after a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter in game five of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 17, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates with guard Jaylen Brown (7) after a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter in game five of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have completed their ascent to the NBA summit. Al Horford, whose legacy was already defined by winning, can update his resume to include the one accomplishment that was missing.

And the Boston Celtics will cap a campaign of dominance with a parade down Boylston Street and raising Banner 18 to the TD Garden rafters.

Fittingly, like the previous three championships the franchise won, the Celtics shook off a road loss to capture the Larry O'Brien Trophy on their home parquet. Like in 2008, Boston clinched its latest NBA title, again moving ahead of the Lakers for the most in league history, on June 17, which also happens to represent the 617 area code.

Now for a deep dive into a victory that could usher in a Celtics dynasty and, at a minimum, will immortalize Tatum and Brown in the city they star in, as they turned their first season in their primes together into an NBA championship that will silence those who spent years doubting their ability to lead Boston to the NBA's mountain top.

1. With a chance for a championship coronation on their home floor, the Celtics raced out to a 9-2 lead in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Jrue Holiday stripped Kyrie Irving and got a transition layup at the other end. His impact screening for Jayson Tatum, then getting the ball on the short roll, fueled beautiful ball movement, and Al Horford buried a three as Daniel Gafford closed out to him above the break.

2. After not playing in the last two tilts, though he was active for Game 4, Kristaps Porzingis entered Monday's matchup with 6:49 left in the first frame.

The Mavericks, who Jason Kidd said needed to do a better job of challenging the seven-foot-three center than they did in the first two contests, quickly staged an 8-0 run.

However, the Latvian appeared to be moving well, and he settled in, staying on the floor for the rest of the period.

3. Joe Mazzulla consistently preaches the importance of closing quarters well. With the Larry O'Brien Trophy in the building, Boston ended the opening frame on a 12-3 run.

That included Sam Hauser swishing a three, then swatting a Luka Doncic pass, leading to Tatum finding Jaylen Brown for a layup, and Tatum taking the ball from P.J. Washington, then breaking to the basket for two points at the rim. That late flurry by the hosts gave them a 28-18 edge after the first 12 minutes.

4. Midway through the second quarter, Dallas staged an 8-2 run, narrowing the gap to 48-39 after trailing by as much as 15. All of those points came at the cylinder, including back-to-back dunks by Gafford, after Boston went small with Tatum at center. That quickly brought Horford back into the contest.

But the Celtics countered with a 9-0 response, featuring a Tommy Point from Holiday, diving on the floor for a loose ball. His effort influenced a Doncic turnover as he tried to keep the possession alive while sprawled out on the TD Garden parquet. That evoked a double fist pump from Tatum in the direction of Holiday after the errant pass by the Mavericks' star.

As the hosts regained their rhythm from beyond the arc after missing most of their attempts in the second period, that run stretched to 20-5, with Brown, Derrick White, and Tatum each drilling a triple.

5. Payton Pritchard launching a shot from 49 feet as the final seconds of the first half ticked off the clock was the exclamation mark on Boston's second-quarter haymaker. His high-arching rainbow swished through the net, sending the Celtics and TD Garden into a frenzy as his teammates ran out to celebrate with him.

That extended the hosts' advantage to 67-46 at intermission and looked the part of a knockout blow.

6. With NBA Finals MVP still up for grabs, Tatum entered the break with 16 points and nine assists, pacing all participants in both categories.

According to NBC Sports Boston's stats guru, Dick Lipe, the five-time All-Star is the second player in NBA history to produce at least 16 points and nine assists in the first half of the Finals in the play-by-play era, joining LeBron James, who did so in 2017.

Jaylen Brown, the leader in the race for that award entering Game 5 in this author's opinion, registered 15 points and four rebounds in the opening 24 minutes.

7. The third frame was a low-scoring 12-minute stretch, where Dallas outscored the hosts 21-19. Both sides shot below 40% from the field. The Celtics fared 7/24 (29.2%), including 2/10 from three-point range.

Unfortunately for the visitors, only one of the two could afford a quarter dictated by defense. Despite manufacturing a 12-4 edge in points in the paint and Doncic putting nine points on the board, the most in a period where no one reached double-digits, they entered the final frame trailing 86-67, as Boston was 12 minutes from celebrating Banner 18.

8. As the Celtics applied the finishing touches en route to hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, they continued stifling Dallas' offense and attacked the rim at the other end.

Tatum tacked on nine more points by the 4:39 mark, with MVP chants bellowing out of TD Garden as he stepped to the free-throw line to complete an old-school three-point play early in the period.

There was also Brown driving downhill and finding a cutting Kristaps Porzingis for a two-handed flush, evoking a roar from a raucous home crowd.

Boston's dominant display allowed Joe Mazzulla to shine a spotlight on Al Horford, subbing him out while Dallas was at the free-throw line, as TD Garden showered the 17-year veteran in thunderous cheers.

The same is true for Tatum and Brown, the former crying as he reached the NBA mountain top, with a 106-88 victory as the duo led the Celtics to Banner 18.

Further Reading

Jayson Tatum Shares Joe Mazzulla's Message to Celtics Entering Game 5 of NBA Finals

Dependable Xavier Tillman Discusses Learning to 'Be a Star in YourΒ OwnΒ Role'

Celtics Detail Keys to Perhaps Their Best Quarter This Postseason

Celtics Weather Late Storm to Move Within One Win of Banner 18

Sports Doctor Details Challenges, Risks of Kristaps Porzingis Playing in NBA Finals

Jrue Holiday's 'Championship DNA' Rubbing Off on Celtics

Stifling Defense Moves Celtics Halfway to Banner 18

Jayson Tatum's Joy Outweighing Pressure of NBA Finals Return

Inside the Moment that Propelled Celtics to NBA Finals Game 1 Win

Celtics Set the Tone for the NBA Finals with Game 1 Haymaker


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Bobby Krivitsky

BOBBY KRIVITSKY

Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.