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akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BOSTON — As the seconds ticked down on an imperious first half of action (and, in truth, the last stages of the competitive nature of Game 5 also wound down at that time), Payton Pritchard launched a 50-foot heave toward the basket that became a microcosm of the Boston Celtics now-championship season. After a season many expected to be a romp toward championship No. 18, in line with the dominant first 24 minutes they treated their title-starved fans to, the swish from Pritchard’s shot released an unbridled, children-at-the-park-playing-tag joy from almost every member of the Celtics — from Tatum leaping into the air to chest-bump Pritchard to the Boston bench storming off the floor to form a mob akin to a college team winning a March Madness game on a buzzer-beater.

The Boston Celtics finally released every emotion welled up in the past nine months, and championship banner No. 18 finally has its delivery date.

The most storied franchise in the National Basketball Association added another championship to its sterling history, as a balanced effort overwhelmed the Dallas Mavericks from the jump in a dominant 106-88 victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals inside TD Garden, an arena that will raise another banner in basketball for the first time in 16 years. Jaylen Brown scored 21 points with eight rebounds and six assists on his way to being named NBA Finals MVP, while his running mate for seven years, fellow All-Star and superstar Jayson Tatum, had 31 points with 11 assists and eight rebounds.

These last seven years have been a roller coaster, up and down,” Tatum said. “I had to listen to all the s— that people said about me, and tonight, it was worth it. Oh, my God.”

Losing in the 2022 Finals NBA Finals to Golden State and falling one game shy of a return trip last year in the Eastern Conference Finals prompted sizable change to the roster, as the Celtics parted ways with the heart and soul of the team for nine years, Marcus Smart, along with Malcolm Brodgon, Robert Williams III and Grant Williams on trades that eventually yielded big man Kristaps Porzingis and point guard Jriue Holiday. The result was 64 regular-season wins, the best in the league, and somehow, the Celtics stepped up their dominance more so during the grind that is the NBA postseason, going 16-3 in the playoffs and losing no more than one game in any of their four series. In the Finals, Boston held the Mavericks to under 100 points in four of the five games, including all three contest inside TD Garden.

“It can be so easy when you work for this organization and you don’t win that the work that people put in just gets brushed over or gets ignored,” second-year head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “And when I first got here, the staff, you know, [Brad Stevens’] coaching, the staff that they had, the foundation that they built with these guys when they were young, the foundation of what we have, is one of the reasons why we’re here today. So I think that’s one of the first things that came to mind, was just because we won this doesn’t mean what the people have done before us isn’t just as important.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Monday evening’s Game 5, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Erica Denhoff. After clicking on a photo to enlarge the picture, press the left and right arrow buttons on either side of the caption to scroll through the rest of the pictures that appear on the first page. Also, click on the numbers and/or arrow appearing immediately below the picture grid to load the next set of photos. There are 62 pictures in total.

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Tags : Boston CelticsDallas MavericksJaylen BrownJayson TatumNational Basketball AssociationNBA Finals

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