The Boston Celtics Now Find Themselves Just One Win Away From Basketball Immortality

Brian Babineau. Getty Images.

Yes, I am still floating. How could anyone not be right now? Well, I guess the haters and losers of which there are still many as well as Mavs fans around the world probably aren't too happy right now, but who cares about that. They've had their chances, but despite what everyone on the internet was trying to tell you heading into the Finals, the better team is one win away from securing their 18th NBA Championship.

Now up a commanding 3-0 in these Finals, it has my brain in an interesting place. The majority of my brain is telling the rest of my body that this thing is over. The Celts delivered the death blow. It's how the entire world is talking right now, and for good reason.

At the same time, my brain also remembers 2023. If Gabe Vincent didn't display #HeatCulture and intentionally slide his foot under Jayson Tatum on the first play of Game 7, the Celtics become the first team in NBA history to come back from being down 0-3. It hasn't happened in NBA history, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. I'm still a believer in respecting the Basketball Gods, because they are always watching.

How do I know that? Simple. 

This couldn't have happened to a better fanbase! Cheering injuries is never a good move, especially when your season is on the line. As we saw, the Basketball Gods do not take kindly to that behavior.

So I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the Finals are technically not over. It's first to 4, not first to 3. All the Celts have done so far is put themselves in a fantastic position to achieve their ultimate goal. Things look good for them, but they still have to execute. The journey to the 16th win is the hardest of them all, and it's not as if sweeping a team is easy or a given.

But you know what I am going to do? Enjoy the shit out of this. I've been mainlining every highlight, tweet, Reddit post, TV segment etc since the final buzzer sounded. I can't get enough. I am so drunk on Celts Kool Aid I might never recover and that's fine by me. 


They're 1 win away. One. Uno. It's pretty surreal, I can't lie. It's happening, so let's talk about it.

The Good

- We're not changing things at all. We're starting this blog with the same thing that we've started the previous two because in my mind, it's arguably the biggest reason the Celtics find themselves in this position

Three straight games holding the Mavs to under 100 in the NBA Finals. Can we take a second and talk about how completely ridiculous that is? In 2024 while being fully healthy? During the season, the Mavs averaged 117.9 points a game. Heading into the Finals, they had a 115 ORTG. Luka and Kyrie were lauded as the best offensive backcourt in NBA history.

But you see, everyone outside of Celtics fans didn't seem to realize that they were going up against a different kind of beast. The Wolves while good, do not have the best defense on the planet. The Thunder while good, are not there yet. 

So far in these Finals, the Mavs are averaging 95.3 points a game with a 102.1 ORTG. 

Read those numbers again. The Mavs have a 40.5% AST in this series so far to go along with a 48.8% eFG% The Celtics defense has not only been tremendous, I still feel like it can be even better. That seems insane to say about a team that's holding their opponent to under 100 points, but it's also kind of true. We haven't seen their defensive ceiling yet as wild as that sounds.

What the Celts have shown in this series is that above all else, defense comes down to effort. Are you willing to give what it takes to get the job done? Every Celtic that touches the floor is willing to do that, while on the other side, the Mavs' two best players clearly aren't, and the results speak for themselves. This game changed when the Celts locked things down in the 3rd quarter allowing only 19 points, and the game was won by the team getting clutch time stops.

They say defense wins championships, and given what we've seen through 3 games I'm having a hard time disagreeing.

- It's really hard to explain to someone who doesn't root for this team what it feels like to watch Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown be in this position. It's like we're all proud parents watching our kids achieve their dreams. We've been there since the very beginning, through ALL the ups and ALL the downs. Through the joy and the pain. We've dealt with the slander, we've dealt with the hot takes, so to see both guys show up the way they did to put the team in this position was something truly special to witness


Despite the media continuing to do their best to make this a Jayson vs Jaylen thing, what Game 3 showed us is why reality is actually the opposite. The Celtics are who they are because they have them BOTH. When the Mavs came out hot and the Celts got in an early hole, it was Jayson Tatum who filled his superstar role and kept the team close. He was efficient, his decision making was on point, and his first half was the best half of his entire Finals.

When his shot disappeared a little bit in the second half, enter Jaylen Brown. When the Celts needed buckets late, Jaylen rose to the occasion just like he had all season long. The dunk to end the 3rd was like 7 years of frustration all coming out at once. His midrange jumper with 1 minute left to ice the game was the shot of his life. This game was a perfect display of why this is not only the best duo in the NBA, but one of the best duo's in Celtics history

In a game like this, that's when your franchise pillars need to step up and carry. I'm not sure how you do that more than a 30/30 game with incredible defense and clutch time play. 

To me, that's what makes this even more special. We asked the Jays to deliver, and they did. On the road. Again.

- Let's be very clear about something here. Mazzulla Ball not only won the Celtics this game, it could have very well won them the NBA title. Allow me to explain.

Both the Celtics and the Mavs made 38 FGM. The Celts shot 37% from three, the Mavs 36%. FTA were 16 for DAL and 14 for BOS. Things were as even as you can get.

So what was the difference? Simple. 

The Mavs shot just 25 3PA, the Celts 46. They were +24 (17-9) from behind the arc, which ultimately was the difference in the game. Their 3PT volume, the one thing EVERYONE said would cost them the title is the very thing that put them in a position to win it.


Do people see the light now? In today's NBA, you cannot trade 2s for 3s, especially against an elite shooting team. The Mavs won the points in the paint battle 52-36 and it didn't matter at all because they were so overwhelmed when it came to the 3PT difference. Just do the math. Mavs were +16 in that area, Celts were +24 from behind the arc, and they won by 7. Seems related!

It's time to give Joe Mazzulal his rightful credit. He's been the best coach at every stage of this playoff run, and this is not debatable. He had an answer for everything Spo threw at him, had no issues with JB Bickerstaff, pantsed Rick Carlisle, and is currently coaching circles around Jason Kidd. Not only does his system and his philosophy work, he has COMPLETE buy in and trust from his players. You don't win 10 straight playoff games and 7 straight road playoff games without being prepared and focused, and that comes back to the coach.

- You will never be able to convince me that Derrick White going bald was perhaps the 3rd most important aspect of this entire season. It changed him in ways we didn't even know was possible

Both White and Jaylen's second halfs will go down in Celtics lore for generations, and just like Jaylen we saw Derrick have some BIG TIME buckets late in this game when things were in the balance. I truly believe Derrick possess the Clutch Gene, and his catch and shoot 3PM with around 2 minutes left was easily one of the biggest shots of the night. Shoutout Jrue for an absolutely insane left handed pass at the rim to find Derrick, and as we know the Basketball Gods reward good ball movement. 

We also should mention the ball control from the starting backcourt. To finish a game like this on the road with a combined 1 TO from Derrick/Jrue is legitimately insane. Holiday hasn't had a TO in a playoff game since like Game 4 against CLE. We are now about to enter Game 4 of the NBA Finals in case you weren't aware. When the Stock Exchance is defending at a high level, making their 3s, creating for others, and taking care of the ball it takes the Celts to a level that no team on the planet can match. It's too much.

- Not sure if you were aware of this, but the Celtics won (another) clutch time game against the Mavs in the NBA Finals, this time on their home floor. You know, the one thing everyone told us the Celtics could not do. That if they found themselves in a close game late in the 4th quarter, that's where the Mavs were going to dominate them.


In reality, the Celts clutch time play in these playoffs has been incredible


They've quite literally beaten the Mavs handily at their own game. What was supposed to be a strength for the Mavs is turning out to actually be a strength for the Celtics. 

Very impressive for a team that "wasn't battle-tested"! I for one am shocked that all those reps for the Mavs in previous series doesn't seem to translate now that they are truly playing an elite defense. 

- With no KP, it meant that the "others" were going to have to step up. For this team and in this game, that meant guys like Sam Hauser, Payton Pritchard, and as we would come to learn, Xavier Tillman.

Hauser got things started with some of the best play of his playoffs. Defensively he was once again solid, making sure to use his whiteness to bait opposing players into thinking they can iso him and score. Instead, they were trapped on Hauser Island. Then when the Celts needed it most, Hauser also found his shot again

And what else is there to say about Tillman? First, shoutout Joe for going that route and not Kornet like we all expected. He wanted the switching speed of Tillman and boy did he deliver on that end and then some


To me, this was his Leon Powe moment. The Stay Ready Group stayed ready and delivered in the biggest game of the season. If that doesn't bring a smile to your face I'm not sure what the fuck your problem is, and performances like this just reiterate the fact that the 2024 Boston Celtics are a T-E-A-M. To win a title you need every single person on the roster to rise to the occasion when their number is called, and that's exactly what happened for both of those guys. It legitimately changed the game.

- Of all the players on this roster, I am most happy for Al Horford. One more win and he becomes immortal. Nobody, and I mean nobody in the league deserves it more than Al. 

- So much of the Celts success this year comes back to their resiliency. This version of the roster does not panic. They are able to take your best punch on the chin and not even flinch. The Mavs were throwing haymakers to start this game, the Celts got down by 13 early and instead of letting things spiral, they dug in defensively and fought back. That's what championship teams do.

When the Mavs went on their massive run in the 4th quarter, the Celtics did not panic. They took it on the chin, dug in defensively and fought back. That's what championship teams do.

I put that on the two best players and their growth. I put that on Joe for the belief he has instilled in this team. I put that on maturity. I put that on Jrue and Derrick's calmness, it all works together.

For me, this was the final piece. This is what the team had to do in order to get over the hump, and here we are.

The Bad

- I think it goes without saying what we're putting here. Of fucking course this team one minute can build a 21 point lead with 11 minutes to go in the 4th quarter, only for it to then be a 1 point game in the final minutes. That's so them and why we both love and hate them. I mean is it too much to ask to be able to relax and trust a 21 point lead in the 4th quarter? Everyone else seems to be able to do it, but not us.

But you know what? If this is what it takes to win a title, so be it. I'll go through that hell every single time. Make no mistake, I was having a complete meltdown watching the Celtics meltdown right before my eyes, but they pulled it out and that's what matters.

At the same time, brutal Pritchard minutes down the stretch on both ends, the shot selection was dogshit with guys falling in love with low quality looks, it was everything you hate to see from the Celts in 4th quarters. Allowing a 20-2 run or whatever it ended up being isn't exactly what I would call "good", and thankfully Luka's terrible defense and decision making took him out of the equation offensively for the final 4 minutes, because things were teetering a little bit there.

- Speaking of Luka, all that crying about the officiating is so embarrassing when you remember what the refs actually did. There was the clear foul on the Jayson Tatum dunk that you can see Marc Davis legitimately call a foul on and then take it back


and then there was the play where Luka took out Jaylen in the open court by diving into him, which was another no call

So for Luka to be crying so much after the game about fouls and how the refs were is very, very embarrassing. As is everyone crying that Luka should be allowed to foul as much as he wants because it was a close game. The dude had legit 7 fouls if not more in this game. It's not the refs or the Celtics problem that he played like a dumbass and put himself in these positions. These are all fouls

- The amount of switching up you're about to hear with the national media/podcasts/etc is going to be generational. Do not let those assholes off the hook. We all remember. It was Mavs in 5, Mavs in 6, Mavs have the two best players, Mavs are a real playoff team that the Celts won't be able to handle. It's what we were told every single day for 10 straight days leading into the Finals.


Now you'll hear how the Celtics are clearly the better team, Luka is hurt, this is only a 5 seed, everyone expected this blah blah blah

Fuck that and fuck you. 

The Ugly

Nope. Sorry. 10 in a row means we ignore this section forever. If they make it 11, see ya next season.

So now we wait. Friday cannot come soon enough. I know there are some that want the Celts to finish this off at home in the Garden, but I don't give a shit about that. I just want to be the first to 4, and if that means doing it on the road then so be it. This team is now 4 quarters away from history, and I really can't believe this is our life. 

15 (!!!!!!!) down, 1 to go (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Let us pray.