After 101 total games played, the Boston Celtics were named 2024 NBA Champions. They defeated the Dallas Mavericks in five games in the NBA Finals, making quick work of Luka Doncic and Co. en route to banner No. 18.

Now that the postseason is over, we can look back at both teams incredible playoff runs to evaluate how both got there and if they can return to the same position next season.

This postseason has confirmed everything we knew about the Boston Celtics and probably even more about the Western Conference playoff race. But let's start with the NBA Champs first.

The Celtics Showed Us All Year — And Even Before That

We should've known the Celtics would be back here and eventually get the job done.

They'd reached the Eastern Conference Finals three years in a row and in six of the last eight years, while reaching the NBA Finals in 2022 and 2024. After coming back from down 3-0, but falling short in Game 7 of the Conference Finals last year at the hands of the Miami Heat, Boston turned around and added Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday.

Porzingis had a career year with the Washington Wizards in 2022-23, playing 65 games and averaging 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. He showed his durability in that season and carried that into this season with the Celtics.

The addition of Porzingis gave the Celtics not one, but two elite defenders AND floor spacers at the center position. Al Horford, who just finished his 17th season in the NBA, continued to produce at a high-enough level to remain a very serviceable backup or even a starter for Boston if need be. Boston having the luxury two bigs who can defend, shoot, and put the ball on the floor to create for themselves or others took them to another level.

Porzingis averaged 20.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.9 blocks in 57 games as a member of the Celtics this year while shooting a career-high 51.6 percent from the field. He struggled with durability at times, and ended up having to miss a huge chunk of the postseason with a calf strain. He was, however, able to return for the NBA Finals and made an immediate impact as a limited participant against his former team.

And then, just a few days before training camp, the Celtics shocked everyone and pulled the trigger on a trade for Jrue Holiday.

Holiday's season numbers never jump off the page, but his elite defense paired up with his high-IQ and low-mistake brand of basketball made him a seamless fit for this Celtics team. Holiday shot a career high 42.9 percent from three this year and absolutely excelled as a player no longer tasked with being the first or second scoring option on his team.

And so you add those two former All-Stars to a team led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown? Tatum, 26 years of age, and Brown, 27, already have a bevy of experience and playoff shortcomings to learn from, and they still technically have not reached their NBA primes just yet.

Whether through sports media commentary or those with an affinity for one over the other, many have tried to separate Tatum and Brown following each of their playoff disappointments. The Celtics and their two stars never wavered or lost sight of the big picture, however, which is how we've gotten to the point where both are champions.

“Man, I want everybody to be at their best,” Jayson Tatum told Chris Haynes. “I want everybody to contribute. Winning will take care of everything. Finals MVP or whatever, a champion is a champion. That's the goal. I want for my teammates what I want for myself. I want everybody to shine. There's enough attention for all of us. And so, I want everybody to give us theirs.”

This past season, Boston boasted the best offensive rating in the NBA at 122.2 points per 100 possession — yes, even better than the Indiana Pacers — while having the second best defensive rating in the league at 110.6 points per 100 possessions, behind only the staunch Minnesota Timberwolves.

That's translated directly into the postseason, where Boston has the second best offense and second best defense among teams who played at least two playoff rounds.

As Shane Young of Forbes Sports mentioned on Twitter, this Celtics team has been historically great all regular season and postseason. They secured their 80th win of the season in their 101st game, an absolutely absurd winning percentage and puts them up there as one of the greatest teams of all-time.

Truly, the only team that likely could've given the Celtics any trouble is the Denver Nuggets. A team running their stuff through the all-world Nikola Jokic and a read-and-react type of offense is hard to defend for anyone. Their roster depth, or lack thereof, definitely showed itself this postseason, but they were also up 20 points on their home floor in the second half of Game 7 against the Timberwolves. More often than not, you win that game.

Hypotheticals aren't something we're going into today. At the end of the day, the Celtics were the most dominant team this season and simply appeared matchup proof. They have elite defenders at every position, a communicative core that's on a string at all times, and a high-powered offense that probably hasn't even played that well this postseason and still finished the postseason with a 16-3 record.

This Celtics team is an all-timer. They showed us all year. All we had to do was watch and listen.

The Mavericks' Path

Let me start this off by saying the Dallas Mavericks were a great team this season, but especially so after the February trade deadline. The acquisitions of PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford allowed the team to better complement Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in what was a surprising NBA Finals run to almost everyone outside of those in Dallas.

Doncic finished the 2023-24 NBA season as the league's top scorer, averaging 33.9 points on 48.7 percent shooting from the field and 38.2 percent shooting from beyond the three-point arc.

Kyrie Irving found his place in Dallas alongside a group of hard-working players. Avoiding distractions has allowed him to be the best version of himself and we've seen that all season long. At 32 years of age, Irving is playing the best basketball of his career as well alongside a future Hall-of-Famer in Doncic.

Dereck Lively II grew up before everyone's eyes in a tough rookie season that saw him lose his mother to cancer.

At the same time, it's okay to say that the Mavs benefitted from a nearly perfect alignment of playoff matchups en route to the Finals with above average performances from some of their role guys. And that's really what the NBA postseason can be about sometimes: Who matches up well with who? Who doesn't match up well with who? Who can step-up when needed the most? Which team will best be able to execute their gameplan with as few mistakes as possible against the other team?

The Mavericks were able to do that for most of the postseason. Doncic and Irving were unreal until they reached the NBA Finals and faced the staunch Celtics defense. Their role players in PJ Washington, Derrick Jones Jr., Dereck Lively II, as well as Daniel Gafford all performed and exceeded expectations throughout the playoff run. The Mavs also displayed a resilience about them anytime they got down in a series, and were actually 7-3 on the road in the first three rounds of the playoffs.

But again, sometimes it does just come down to matchups.

The end-of-season shot by Devonte' Graham really changed the complexion of the Western Conference standings. The Nuggets, who were slated to finish as the West's No. 1 seed, dropped to the second seed. Instead of avoiding the Timberwolves and/or Thunder until potentially the Western Conference playoffs, Denver was faced with the Lakers in the first round and then T-Wolves, the team build to take them down.

The Wolves size and length gave the Nuggets problems. Tim Connelly, who helped construct the Nuggets roster before taking on the Wolves job, knew exactly what it took to take Denver down. The flip-side to that is the Mavs just used the Wolves' size to their own advantage, repeatedly hunting mismatches for Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving when Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Naz Reid were on the floor.

A team like the Nuggets, which can go five-out with length and heavily involves both man movement as well as ball movement, would've been a much more difficult task for the Mavericks to take on. Once the Wolves did what they were built to and took them out, that opened the door for the Mavs.

Dallas took down an older and slower LA Clippers team without Kawhi Leonard. They took down an OKC Thunder team and exposed them for their severe lack of shooting and playmaking around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And lastly, they took down the Timberwolves in five games with Doncic and Irving combine to average 59.4 points per game on 60 true shooting percentage.

They had a great run to the NBA Finals. Will they be able to do it again? Who knows. The West has had five straight years with a different team reaching the NBA Finals, and in each case, that team did not make it past the second round the following year. Most of the teams will reload for a deep playoff run.

The Grizzlies should be getting Ja Morant back with improved versions of Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. The OKC Thunder just traded for Alex Caruso and appear ready for a major offseason move that will take them over the top. The Timberwolves will be a problem with Anthony Edwards leading the way. The Nuggets will try to get back to the mountaintop and as long as they have Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, they have a real chance to do so.

While the Mavs' postseason future is unclear with how the rest of the West is shaping up, one thing is clear: the Boston Celtics have built their team to last multiple years and contend for multiple championships. As great as they were this postseason, it's fair to say there's still room for improvement. They went 16-3 this postseason with Porzingis only playing seven games and no one player really having that dominant postseason we're used to seeing. Then again, maybe that balance is the key to their success.

Either way, the East is going to run through Boston for years to come.