When the Celtics went full throttle in the offseason and eradicated all need for involvement in February’s NBA trade deadline, the message was loud and clear: Boston was fully committed to chasing Banner 18 and nothing less.

That vision of overtaking the Lakers (again) for the NBA’s record for championships came to life after the Celtics defeated the Mavericks, 106-88, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, clinching their 18th title at TD Garden. Two years after watching the Warriors celebrate in Boston after a six-game Finals battle in 2022, the Celtics sunk in the green and white confetti pouring from the rafters before popping champagne bottles in the locker room.

“Banner No. 18 has been hanging over our head for so many years,” Jayson Tatum said following the title-clinching win. “To know that we’re going to be engraved in history, and it still hasn’t like registered. I’m just still trying to process it all. But we did it. We won a championship.”

With a quick pre-planned celebration trip to Miami and a duck boat parade awaiting the Celtics on Friday, Boston can celebrate its long-awaited title and no longer pay mind to the outside noise that’s followed the team since Opening Night back in October.

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Here are three takeaways from the Celtics-Mavericks Game 5 series-clincher:

1. There’s no more room for Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown separation talk
For years, while playing under the adopted pressure in Boston’s intense environment, Tatum and Brown have undergone everything together.

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They’ve experienced the highs of booking five Eastern Conference finals appearances together and the lows of falling in the Finals while watching an opponent celebrate on the famed parquet. Through it all, Tatum and Brown have held their tongues while being bombarded with trade rumors, doubt, and hot media takes downplaying their ability to co-exist as leaders of the Celtics; all while remaining poised and entrusting the journey.

“We’ve been through a lot,” Brown said. “We’ve been playing together for seven years now. We’ve been through a lot, the losses, the expectations. The media have said all different types of things: We can’t play together, we are never going to win.”

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Tatum and Brown combined for 52 points in the series clincher, etching their names in all-time Celtics history with an opportunity to build upon Banner 18 as the start of a possible multi-year dynasty. By then, the naysayers will be left with nothing but scraps left to hurl toward Boston’s All-Star tandem.

2. Brad Stevens is everything Celtics needed from Danny Ainge
Initially, the news came as a shocker when Stevens took over for Ainge in July 2021, shifting from head coach to president of basketball operations.

But just two years deep into the job, Stevens has proven to be one of several critical components required for Boston’s successful championship run this season — and it’s not a debate.

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Stevens was named the 2023-24 NBA Basketball Executive of the Year in April, which was expected. He delivered Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday — — a pair of acquisitions that wasted no time meshing with an already-competitive Celtics core — aggressively parting ways with Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams III in two separate blockbuster trades

Ainge, who was responsible for drafting Tatum and Brown before joining the Jazz, wasn’t nearly as proactive in building around the two after the failed tenures of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. The additions of Enes Kanter, Evan Fournier, Jabari Parker, and Kemba Walker were just a few examples of ineffective roster additions that never panned out, and were all easy rather than bold front-office triggers pulled by Ainge.

Now, the Celtics have a present and future with their proven missing pieces in Porzingis and Holiday signed to multi-year contract extensions, and it’s all thanks to the mastermind himself in Stevens.

3. Joe Mazzulla officially escaped the Ime Udoka comparisons for good
Stepping up from assistant to head coach in place of Udoka, for dishonorable reasons, put Mazzulla in the spotlight right away and none of it was ideal.

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Mazzulla adopted the expectations of getting the Celtics over the hump, but that tall task exploited the then-inexperienced head coach who started with an interim tag. As the team took a step back from its defensive-powered identity under Udoka and transitioned into a (heavily) 3-point-centered offense under Mazzulla, an outpouring of mixed reviews arrived; some even calling for Mazzulla’s job.

“I feel like it’s going to be like that for the rest of my career, as it should be,” Mazzulla explained after becoming the youngest head coach to win an NBA title since Bill Russell. “I think just having an understanding that praise and criticism are both just as dangerous. And if you don’t handle them well, and I think we talked about that as a team this year, like winning is just as dangerous as losing if you don’t handle it well.”

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