Arbella Early Edition

Forsberg, Maxwell: Why C's are ready to bring home Banner 18

"I think they're ready for this moment, and everything this season has been building towards this."

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The Boston Celtics are one step away from hanging the elusive Banner 18 in the TD Garden rafters.

After dominant series wins over the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Indiana Pacers, the C's final test will come against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2024 NBA Finals. Unlike the 2022 Finals against the Golden State Warriors, the Celtics are heavy favorites for this year's matchup. They finished the regular season with a league-best 64-18 record and have lost only two games so far this postseason.

"I just think that this team is on a mission and the pressure is all on them," Celtics great Cedric Maxwell said on Friday's Early Edition. "They need to bust that bubble and if they do, this team could win several with the personnel they have."

In 2022 the Celtics fell to the dynastic Warriors in six games. It was a forgettable series for superstar Jayson Tatum, and Boston's supporting cast paled in comparison to this year's group.

Now that Tatum and fellow C's star Jaylen Brown have more experience, and the roster is loaded with talent, our Celtics insider Chris Forsberg foresees different results against Dallas.

"I don't think the 2022 team would have been able to handle that pressure. Even as sort of the underdog against Golden State they didn't handle it well, and I think they're just different now," Forsberg said. "I think having been there, there's a unique calmness to you. Like, you've been through it. It won't be overwhelming, the media and everything that comes with it, even though it's gonna be obnoxious with this long break.

"I think they're ready for this moment, and everything this season has been building towards this. It feels like from Jayson and Jaylen coming to camp early and setting the tone, to taking care of business and not having the lulls that a lot of these seasons have had, to winning in tidy fashion in these playoffs, I've seen great growth from this team."

🔊 Celtics Talk: Kyrie! Kristaps! Previewing the NBA Finals with Cedric Maxwell | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The common refrain is that anything less than a title for the Celtics would be a failure. Forsberg is among those who believe that to be true after watching this team wreak havoc on the rest of the league for the last eight months.

"Look, you've got to do it on the biggest stage and we all know what's at stake here," he added. "You get to this point, you lose, it was a failure. That's harsh to say, but it's ultimately the truth. And there might be some variables that go into that but ultimately, you've got to get to the finish line and you are right there. It's weird to feel confident in this team."

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is set for 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday at TD Garden. You can view the full series schedule here.

Watch the full "Early Edition" segment below, or on YouTube:

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