Jayson Tatum celebrates Celtics' 18th title. GETTY IMAGES

The All Star swingman made a push for Finals MVP, which went to teammate Jaylen Brown, and dismantled the Dallas Mavericks by a score of 106-88 on Monday to put the Massachusetts franchise atop the all-time record list with its first championship since 2008.

The world’s premier basketball league has now crowned six different teams in the past six seasons, albeit the Celtics are no newcomers to the banner-raising ceremony. They entered the Finals with 17 titles, the same number than the longtime rival Los Angeles Lakers and, after routing the Mavs by 4-1 in the series, now sit alone as the winningest club in NBA history.

The often criticised Jayson Tatum made it happen with a career-defining performance in Game 5. In front of the hometown fans who many times wondered if he had what it takes to win in big moments, the all-purpose forward delivered 31 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists that put the murmurs to rest. "Oh my God. It's a surreal feeling. We did it," a victorious Tatum exhaled. "This is an incredible feeling. I'm lost for words. I'm sorry."

Celtics fans celebrate at TD Garden arena. GETTY IMAGES
Celtics fans celebrate at TD Garden arena. GETTY IMAGES

Boston celebrated raucously at TD Garden arena. After all, the decorated club that conquered 11 titles through the Bill Russell years from 1956 to 1969 had only enjoyed one more championship since 1986: it was the charismatic 2008 team led by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen that broke the spell, but the famed leprechauns hadn’t partied since.

Dallas was a fearsome opponent coming in, with one-time Celtic Kyrie Irving and superstar Luka Doncic posting a double scoring threat from the perimeter. But Irving again had a bad showing in Boston, going for just 15 points in Game 5, and the Slovenian playmaker fared better with 28, plus 12 rebounds and five assists, but looked tired down the stretch after a stellar Game 4 in Texas to keep his club’s hopes alive.

Luka Doncic drives against Jayson Tatum. GETTY IMAGES
Luka Doncic drives against Jayson Tatum. GETTY IMAGES

"I'm proud of every guy that stepped on the floor, all the coaches, all the people behind," defeated Doncic said afterwards. "Obviously, we didn't win the Finals, but we did have a hell of a season and I'm proud of every one of them."

Boston coach Joe Mazzulla, another frequent target for critics, managed to get his team ready to pounce on the Finals’ second close-out opportunity and his players never fell behind against a desperate Mavericks squad that struggled to score early. Jrue Holiday, the Celtics’ defensive specialist epitomised the eventual champs’ philosophy by wearing down Doncic, attacking the paint and providing an early lead.

Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis came in off the home bench against his former team and the Texans responded by hitting three pointers to close the gap to 16-13, but Boston retaliated with a 9-0 run to close the first quarter ahead by 10.

Mazzulla’s first attempt at small ball backfired in the second period and Doncic kept it close by driving to the basket, yet Tatum ramped up his aggressiveness, Boston hounded both the Slovenian and Irving, and veteran Al Horford spiced things up in the paint while reserve Peyton Pritchard sealed the first half with a exclamation point, hitting his second halfcourt buzzer-beater of the Finals to send the crowd into a frenzy.

Having squandered a great opportunity to stay within distance, Dallas came into the third period down by 21 and never regained momentum, despite a 7-0 run fuelled by rookie big mane Dereck Lively II and the long distance shot-making by Josh Green. Jason Kidd tried everything: from sticking with PJ Washington, who couldn’t buy a bucket, to throwing in Tim Hardaway Jr. to see if he could replicate his five-of-seven triples heroics from Game 4, to no avail.

Finals MVP Jaylen Brown displays a championship belt. GETTY IMAGES
Finals MVP Jaylen Brown displays a championship belt. GETTY IMAGES

The Celtics were ferocious on the glass too, collecting 51 rebounds to the visitors’ 35. Despite Doncic’s efforts and a few flares by Irving, Mazzulla’s squad sealed the deal by protecting the rim with Porzingis the rest of the way and Tatum leaving his imprint on the win with repeated drives to the basket, finishing with force and grace.

That is exactly how the Celtics 18th championship came about. The best team in the regular season, where it netted 64 wins, found itself even more in the Playoffs, going 16-3 including the Finals. The most storied and now winningest franchise in the sport can admire its latest title with pride after coming up short in the 2022 Finals against the Golden State Warriors with mainly the same group. It can also look ahead with optimism, with two burgeoning young stars in Tatum and Brown, an up-and-coming coach and a solid core that should guarantee competitiveness in the future.

Brown, who scored 21 points and averaged 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the series, was named Finals MVP. "It was a full team effort," he insisted. “I share this with my brothers and my partner in crime Jayson Tatum.”

As for Dallas, it should be back to the drawing board in the hopes of building a winning team around Doncic. For now, the talented playmaker will hope to get his due by fighting for gold at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympics with Slovenia.

"We got to the top of the mountain and we failed, so now we have to start at the bottom, and that should be inspiring," Irving said. "I see an opportunity for us to really build our future in a positive manner where this is almost like a regular thing for us, and we're competing for championships."