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Beat L.A.! How the Boston Celtics Became the Greatest NBA Franchise

The 2023–24 NBA season had Boston written all over it. For the Australian Boomers duo of Dante Exum and Josh Green, a first Finals loss.

For Boston Celtics fans, nothing is sweeter than beating the L.A. Lakers. By winning game 5 of the NBA Finals against Dallas Mavericks, the Celtics did just that.

The Celtics cruised to a 106-88 home win at the TD Garden (Tuesday afternoon AEST), and in doing so notched-up a record 18 titles, breaking the tie with the Lakers. LeBron James and Co. are now second all-time, with 17 — and facing a long off-season to contemplate where it all went wrong.

The Celtics’ first championship since 2008 wasn’t the luck of the Irish, or Lucky the Leprechaun, the franchise’s familiar logo (though the halfcourt buzzer beater from Payton Pritchard at the stroke of halftime had a touch of magic about it).

Boston was too deep, too talented, too stacked with two-way players (athletes who excel at offense and defense), and possess in do-it-all talent Jaylen Brown and smooth-shooting forward Jayson Tatum those ingredients essential for any contender: a superstar duo.

Through the course of the 82-game regular season, Boston collected an exceptional 64 wins, then went on a post-season tear of 16–3, including 8–1 across the final two rounds.

This 2023–24 NBA season had Boston written all over it.

Brown, for his heroics through the series, was awarded Finals MVP, fittingly named after late, great center Bill Russell, the mountain in the middle of the first great Boston Celtics dynasty who collected 11 NBA titles during his 13-year career (plus a gold medal for Team U.S.A. at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne).

In the title-clinching game, Brown collected 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Tatum racked up 31 points with an impressive 11 assists.

If the green machine needed more motivation, they got it when legendary center Bill Walton passed away May 27 at the age of 71. “Big Red,” one of the finest passing players ever in his position, won the second of his two NBA rings in 1986 with the great Celtics team led by Larry Bird.

The Mavs, winners in 2011, are young, talented and build around the mercurial scoring champ Luka Doncic of Slovenia. At 25 years, his prime years lie ahead.

Australian Boomers teammates Josh Green and Dante Exum played handy cameos on a losing effort. Green led all scorers off the bench in Game 5, with 14. Exum, finally injury free and back in the Association, helped Dallas stave off elimination in Game 4 with 10 points off the bench (he was unlucky to have a three-pointer wiped off the scoreboard when cameras spotted one of his feet touching the sideline).

Green and Exum have a chance at redemption when they reconvene for national team duties at the Paris Olympics, and a chance at a second-consecutive stint on the podium. And if there’s any joy to take away for these Western Conference champs, fellow Boomers Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Aron Baynes have all tasted the sting of a NBA Finals defeat, only to bounce-back for a coveted championship.