NBA: Celtics hunger for NBA crown after 2022 finals failure

AFP , Wednesday 5 Jun 2024

A historic championship legacy and a gut-wrenching 2022 finals loss have the Boston Celtics extra motivated to capture their first title since 2008 in this year's NBA Finals.

Jrue Holiday #4 talks with Oshae Brissett #12 of the Boston Celtics during the 2024 NBA Finals Media Day at TD Garden on June 05, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: AFP


The Celtics will play host to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday in the opener of the best-of-seven series, with stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown excited about their trophy chances after falling to Golden State in the 2022 finals.

"I hate that we had to go through it. I wish we would have won," Tatum said Wednesday. "But I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. There's a lesson to be learned in every situation.

"I do feel a lot different this time. I'm excited for the opportunity for us to get the job done. I told myself if I ever got the opportunity again to make it to the finals, never take it for granted. We're here now and I'm excited to get ready to play and have fun."

Brown said he has watched the 2022 finals several times to learn how to better manage his emotions and to make better decisions on the court.

"You learn and grow from your experiences," Brown said. "Two years later makes a pretty big difference.

"This is a special group. The core group has been here for a few years now. We've been able to go through experiences, having success but not having success at the same time.

"The ultimate goal is to get over the hump and win. I think that will add a lot to our legacy as a team, but as of right now, that story is still kind of untold."

Another factor is that the Celtics seek an unprecedented 18th NBA crown, one more than the all-time record they share with the rival Los Angeles Lakers.

"Some of the greatest players to ever play this game wore this uniform. We're honored to follow in their footsteps. They paved the way for us to live out our dreams," said Tatum.

"If you want to be one of the greats to put on this uniform, every great before you won a championship. It takes special players to be part of an environment like that."

One of those is Jrue Holiday, who won a 2021 NBA title with Milwaukee and was obtained in a trade deal just before the season began.

"To be a part of history would be cool, the history the Celtics have," Holiday said. "To add to that is part of the reason I was brought here -- and part of the reason I wanted to come."

'The will to win'

The defensive standout sees something special in the Celtics, who led the NBA with 64 wins this season.

"The pressure JB and JT have to take on is something different," Holiday said. "It's really impressive how they handle themselves.

"I know sometimes talent doesn't mesh together but this does. You saw it in the regular season. You've seen it in the playoffs. Any given night we sacrifice for each other. we're unselfish and I think that's what makes it go."

"And then it's just the will to win. They've been to the Eastern Conference finals a million times and they have been to the finals so they've been to the top, just didn't execute the way they wanted.

"Now that we're here, we want to get the job done."

Tatum appreciates the finals more after losing to Miami in seven games in last year's East finals.

"Last year we took that for granted and we didn't make it to the finals. Put things in prespective," Tatum said.

"You could see our excitement when we won the conference (this year). That's not the be-all, end-all but it really is tough to get to this moment.

"I'm staying in the moment. I'm not thinking of what this would mean to my legacy or anything like that. Excited to go out and get the job done."

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