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How Celtics can beat Mavericks in Game 5 and win an NBA championship

How can the Celtics close out the Mavericks in NBA Finals?
How can the Celtics close out the Mavericks in NBA Finals? 04:25

BOSTON -- The city of Boston is on championship watch. The Celtics can claim the franchise's 18th title on their home floor at TD Garden with a Game 5 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, and they can do so on a pretty special date in Boston sports history.

Not only is it 6/17 -- Boston's area code -- but it was 16 years ago today that the Celtics won their last championship. It's hard to believe that it's been that long since Kevin Garnett shouted "Anything in possible!" following a 39-point blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers, but it's been a while since the Celtics added a banner to the TD Garden rafters. 

After the current Celtics were embarrassed by the Mavs in Dallas on Friday night, they'd love to claim Banner 18 with a blowout victory on Monday. 

"This is what we all work for," Jaylen Brown said Sunday. "We are at the precipice of completing what we set out to do at the beginning of the season. So I think it's not difficult to get everybody in that locker room on the same page right now. It just needs to remind everybody that it's just one possession at a time. We do it together and we fight like our lives depends on it, and I think we'll be all right."

Here's how the Celtics can get it done on Monday night.

Win the battle of the three-ball

When the Celtics are knocking down their threes, they're unstoppable. When they are not, they're still pretty tough, but beatable.

Boston kind of lost its three-ball in Game 4, hitting just 14 of 41 attempts in the loss. And really, the Celtics have just been OK from deep this series, hitting at a 33.9 percent clip after shooting almost 40 percent in the three previous rounds.

The Mavs are starting to catch up in the battle of the three-ball, hitting 40.5 percent of their threes on Friday night (15-for-37). Those 37 attempts were Dallas' third-most of the playoffs, and the majority of them were real good looks. If they keep getting good looks on Monday, it could be a long night for Boston fans. 

The Celtics are going to hoist a ton of threes, because that is what they do and that's the best way to beat the Dallas defense. But they have to be good threes, and not hero-ball isolation threes. It was Boston's drive-and-kick assault that got the best of the Mavs over the first three games, and the Celtics need to get back to that to end this series on Monday night.

Clean that glass

It's super simple: Don't let Dallas dominate the rebounding battle. The Mavs were all over the boards Friday night, winning the battle of the glass, 52-31. They had 13 offensive rebounds to Boston's four, leading to 16 second-chance points from Dallas to just two by the Celtics.

All those rebounds led to a huge night in the paint too, as Dallas outscored Boston, 60-26, under the basket. Clean it up on the glass and under the basket and the Celtics should be in much better shape.

Match Dallas' desperation 

The Mavericks came out desperate on Friday night because they had no other choice. It was clear throughout the game that they wanted it more, and earned a return trip to Boston and a chance to keep the series going. They'll be just as desperate on Monday night as they try to get the series back to Dallas for a Game 6 on Thursday night.

Celtics players admitted to being a bit tense and tight in Game 4. That can't happen again on Monday, and it doesn't sound like it will happen again on Monday.

"I firmly believe we had the right intentions. We wanted to win. We wanted to play the right way. That moment -- we wanted that moment," Jayson Tatum said Sunday. "But I think we maybe put too much pressure on ourselves at that moment to be perfect or think it was going to go how we wanted it to go. Joe [Mazzulla] did a great job of reminding us that it's okay to smile during wars. It's okay to have fun during high-pressure moments. That's what makes our team unique and special."

The Celtics have some cushion with a 3-1 series lead, but they should still play like there is no tomorrow. The Mavericks got had their game on Friday night and avoided a sweep. Now it's time for the Celtics to finish them off and win a title.

"Whatever It Takes" -- from everyone

A championship is right there. And to win a title, everyone needs to contribute. As the shirts being handed out at the TD Garden tonight say, "Whatever it takes."

Tatum and Brown obviously need to be the stars that they are and match Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Jrue Holiday will need to keep doing Jrue things and Derrick White is going to have to hit his share of shots while helping lock down Irving defensively. With Kristaps Porzingis likely out again (he's questionable again after being "available" on Friday), Al Horford will have to turn back the clock once more and Xavier Tillman may be called upon to give some more energetic minutes off the bench. Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser have to be ready to knock down some threes and play some defense as well. Mazzulla needs to be ready to pull out all the stops from the bench.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series hole. The Mavericks kept that dream alive with a big win on Friday night, and now it's time for this Celtics core to stamp out those dreams and become champions.

The Celtics are 48 minutes of good basketball away from a championship. If the C's play their game on Monday night, they should be in for a summer of celebration as NBA champions.

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