Home Sports 2024 NBA Finals: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown finally deliver the dream for Celtics

2024 NBA Finals: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown finally deliver the dream for Celtics

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 17: Jayson Tatum #0 high-fives Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics after a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter of Game Five of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 17, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading or using this photograph, the user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

BOSTON – The duality of the moment on Monday night could not go unnoticed by anyone, not even a soul in the hectic and moved TD Garden.

The warmth for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The heat for Kyrie Irving: just as hot and powerful, but it felt different.

One wouldn’t stand in the other’s way, just as Tatum and Brown refused to split up. And they refused to lose the dominance they had in these NBA Finals, clearly demonstrating that they have a superior team and clearly graduating to the land of the elite.

The Boston Celtics turned their tassels the other way in a haze of green glory, dismantling the overmatched Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the NBA Finals with a dominant 106-88 final victory.

The championship is the 18th banner that will hang from the rafters, breaking a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers. The match was a mere coronation, but one that was won in this building, that night.

The smell of cheap champagne and cigars was inevitable Monday night, but it was probably nauseating two years ago when Stephen Curry painted his masterpiece using the Celtics as a blank canvas, finishing them off in a Game 6 at the Garden.

Last year was the embarrassing Game 7 loss to the eighth-seeded Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals after Boston rallied from a 3-0 deficit and threatened to make real history by being the first to achieve such a comeback in the NBA.

Jayson Tatum high-fives Jaylen Brown after a play against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 17, 2024 in Boston. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It was almost poetic for the Celtics to exorcise those demons in their building: the demanding, relentless fans whose faith in this team was matched only by suffocating expectations, and who thought their two best players couldn’t make it as headliners, much less together.

But there was Tatum, facilitating, rebounding and making up for a poor shooting spree, and he finally broke loose to score 31 with 11 assists and eight rebounds. Brown, who won Finals MVP by a 7-4 margin over Tatum, scored 21 points with six assists and eight rebounds. He chased the injured Luka Dončić all night, exhausting him and forcing him to look over his shoulder, even when no one was there.

As if the ghosts were nearby.

That’s something these Celtics are all too familiar with: the ghosts of the past set the expectations. Ghosts from the past named Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, whose departure to Brooklyn set in motion this night over 10 years ago.

So there was Tatum and Brown, in the locker room, with Brown cradled under Tatum’s arm as Tatum sprayed his teammates with champagne, jumping up and down like high schoolers, finally able to release pent-up emotion.

Now, they are the bogeymen, the standard that will live in the dreams and nightmares of the Dallas Mavericks, who learned how long and with what intensity to play.

The Celtics were relentless and unwavering, even when they lost three games in this playoff run and it felt like the sky was falling, because it always does.

Now, they live in the clouds: white smoke and an upcoming trip to Miami, according to the whiteboard in their locker room.

“It’s a surreal feeling. It hasn’t kicked in yet,” Tatum said. “I guess I’m just trying to enjoy the moment. He kept saying, ‘Wow.’

“These last seven years have been a roller coaster, of ups and downs. I had to listen to all the shit people said about me and tonight it was worth it. Oh Lord.”

The normally demure Tatum howled several times, while Brown stayed true to his demeanor but smiled widely.

“We’ve been through a lot, the losses, the expectations,” Brown said. “The media has said all kinds of things: we can’t play together, we’re never going to win.

“We heard everything. But we just blocked it and moved on. I trust him. He trusted me. And we did it together.”

The duo you couldn’t trust became the ones who helped each other in times of conflict. This endured because they endured. That seems to be a necessary attribute in today’s NBA, even though the structure requires constant change.

When Kevin Durant asked to leave Brooklyn (the first time), the Celtics were on his list of teams. Making a deal work meant sacrificing Brown.

You can’t and it was worth it.

“I think they knew what they had,” Jrue Holiday told Yahoo Sports. “They knew they had gold. And it was only a matter of time before a situation like this happened, where we got a ring and, hopefully, more to come.”

It’s no guarantee, but look at the recent champions. They all share an organizational stubbornness, establish an ethos, stick to the plan and are flexible when times arise. For the Denver Nuggets, it was making sure Nikola Jokić had the right pieces around him. For the Golden State Warriors, the stubborn belief that Curry could lead with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green as teammates, that his championship equity would appear.

For the Milwaukee Bucks, harnessing the relentless energy of Giannis Antetokounmpo and adding the right man at the right time in Holiday, never relenting when the trade calls grew louder.

These Celtics have a little of all that in their DNA, although they do not possess a supernova, that singular talent that erases mistakes. But employing the NBA’s best six-man rotation has to count for something, and leaning on the math of the day that shoots more 3-pointers and defends at a high level means you’ll run and hide at the first glance of the opposition. the slide held true.

“It really starts with them,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said of his players. “You can’t have a philosophy or a way of playing if you don’t have a group of guys who are willing to accept it and be disciplined. Honestly, this group of guys has been through so much in the league that they know what it takes.”

There were reasonable doubts about whether the Celtics knew what was needed, specifically Tatum and Brown. Could Tatum become an MVP type and Brown max out simultaneously? Honestly, the two had to make space for each other, a hierarchy had to be established while each player walked their own path.

It’s been a Rubik’s Cube for this franchise over the last few years, trading point guards like Irving, Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and now Holiday. Bringing in the injured Kristaps Porziņģis this year, knowing his medical history and having problems, but being good enough to endure it. Having Brad Stevens as coach, then he unexpectedly went to the front office and hired Ime Udoka, who led them to the Finals but was fired months later for interoffice misconduct.

Then young Mazzulla stepped in, weeks before last season began. And let’s not forget that Al Horford was a pillar, then he left, then he came back and was able, at 37 years old, to be the man in the middle.

“Nobody deserved it more than Al,” Brown said. “He has been a great leader not only on the field but also off it. Just a mentor.

“Like his performance all season, like Al was 37, 38 years old and we leaned on him a lot. Probably too much for her age and his situation. He just delivered. So consistent, so disciplined with his body. He never complains, you know what I mean. The only thing he does is contribute to winning.”

Through Monday, Horford played the most non-title playoff games, and Brown and Tatum came close to topping the dubious list of teammates with extra years of playoff experience in their ring-less ledger.

Those marks evaporated in a cloud of white smoke, captured as Tatum lifted his son, Deuce, into the sky in a moment that will forever be framed in the Tatum household.

“He told me he was the best in the world,” Tatum said of that moment. “I said, ‘You’re absolutely right, I am.’”

It wasn’t exactly the “Anything is possible!” by Garnett. roar from 16 years ago, but will live on in history. That team was forged out of desperation and years of discomfort.

But difficult decisions had to be made to realize that the team could no longer compete, and the door was closed on an era, the best of the franchise since Larry Bird stalked the Garden floors.

So when then-general manager Danny Ainge sent Garnett and Pierce to Brooklyn, one of the pieces he received in return was draft capital to select Brown in 2016. Then Tatum a year later, thanks to more steals in the draft night.

It means these two championship teams are united, transactionally and practically.

Tatum and Brown are forever linked, young enough to have the wounds, but old enough to experience what their idols have.

“It took being relentless,” Tatum said. “It took being on the other side of this and losing in the Finals and being literally at the lowest point in a basketball career that you could be at, next year, the year after, thinking that was going to be the moment.” , and fall short again.

“And now, elevating yourself in a space where, you know, all your favorite players are there, everyone you consider greats or legends has won a championship, and all the guys that you looked up to have won a championship, multiple championships.

“So now I can walk in those rooms and be a part of that.”

The door has been opened and the Celtics plan to stay for a while.

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