The Boston Celtics put their season-long stockpile of narratives to rest by defeating the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals, accomplishing what the naysayers claimed would be improbable once the postseason began.

Unlike last season’s group, which crumbled in the Eastern Conference finals against a much-less talented Miami Heat crew, there wasn’t much room for scrutiny. Boston’s 16-3 run, in which the team never lost twice consecutively, validated the Celtics in ways they’d been striving for years. Even all-time Boston icon and Hall of Famer Kevin McHale noticed a difference this season.

“I thought (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) matured a lot,” McHale, a three-time Celtics champion, told SiriusXM NBA Radio on Monday.

The pressure, built on the organization’s blockbuster offseason in which Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday were added to the mix, inflated — and it all hovered over the shoulders of Tatum and Brown. They were the tandem that the Celtics refused to split up, so following an inexcusable finish to 2023, there was no leeway for a repeat once Opening Night arrived in October.

Story continues below advertisement

During the regular season, the Celtics earned their flowers by leading the league with 64 wins, holding on tightly to the No. 1 seed after re-taking its possession on Nov. 14 and losing just four times at home in the regular season. Boston’s identity, which could be chalked up to rushing 3-point attempts first and foremost during the 2022-23 season, quickly became sacrifice at the forefront above all else.

That began with Tatum and Brown and continued in the postseason, ending with the two combining for 52 points in Game 5 of the Finals — the clincher.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

“(Tatum) just made passes and I was like, ‘Wow, alright'” McHale continued. “So you’re playing the flow of the game. You’re not playing for your numbers, you’re not playing for all those things. You’re playing for the flow of the game, and the flow of the game dictates where the ball rolls. And I thought Brown and Tatum finally got to the point of not playing the numbers, ‘I gotta get my numbers. I gotta do this. I gotta do that.’ They just played flow basketball. I was just so happy and proud of those guys.”

Featured image via Peter Casey/USA TODAY Sports Images