Celtics overcame years of doubt, are NBA champions


The Celtics were a team built from the ground up, organically, to raise a trophy at the end of the season.

Al Horford and the Celtics celebrate with the Larry O’Brien trophy as 2024 NBA champions. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Celtics defeated the Mavericks 106-88 on Monday. They are the 2024 NBA champions.

Here are the takeaways.

1. The Celtics were by far the best team in the regular season. They were by far the best team in the Eastern Conference. And on Monday, they proved themselves the best team in the NBA. 

This was not a team that was built by signing superstars, although Brad Stevens has been immensely shrewd in his moves throughout his tenure. This was not a team driven by a singular superstar, because both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were singularly spectacular. 

This was a team built through good draft process and great identification of complementary players. This was a team that demolished everyone all year, that stormed through the Eastern Conference playoffs, that crushed the Mavericks so thoroughly (with one notable exception) that people not involved in the series complained incessantly that they were bored by the proceedings.

But the Celtics were not boring. This was a team built from the ground up, organically, to raise a trophy at the end of the season.

After years of coming up short, years of frustration, years of doubt, this was a team that proved itself one of the greatest in recent history. They are the deserving 2024 champions. 

2. Jaylen Brown won the NBA Finals MVP and cursed so much that the ABC broadcast had to cut large portions of his speech. In it, he thanked his “brothers” and shouted out Jayson Tatum, who he said shared the MVP with him. 

The Celtics became champions when all of their players were on the same page. Tatum and Brown have played together so long – and through so much – that when it came time to choose one of them, there probably wasn’t a bad choice. Brown pushed the Celtics through the early games and defended Luka Doncic. Tatum was the engine that propelled the Celtics offensively and nearly recorded a triple-double in the closeout victory with 31 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists. 

In the end, after years of calling for them to be broken up, the Celtics needed both Jays to win a title. Basketball can be poetry sometimes. 

3. While the legacies of Brown and Tatum were cemented (and will only be built going forward) on Monday, the other legacy that deserves mention here is Al Horford, who won his first title at age 38 and was critical in the closeout game as well. Horford scored nine points, grabbed nine rebounds and finished with two steals.

4. For those of you who are agnostic toward the concept of Basketball Gods, please consider the following evidence left to us: Dante Exum could have hoisted a full-court shot at the end of the first quarter, and he instead opted to dribble out the clock in a do-or-die Game 5 of the NBA Finals. 

By contrast, with the Celtics up by 18 following a big layup by Luka Doncic, Payton Pritchard fired up a half-court shot and – for the second time in the Finals – he buried it at the buzzer. 

Every once in a while, the Basketball Gods show themselves to those who are open to receiving them. Open your heart. Take the half-court heave.

5. Derrick White chipped a tooth diving for a loose ball when Dereck Lively mushed his face into the parquet floor. 

“Oh, you sure is ugly,” Brown informed him when he caught sight of White’s smile.

Less ugly: This incredible block when White got Lively back.

We will have more takeaways later this evening.

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