And just like that, the Celtics are back in the driver’s seat in the NBA Finals. Boston continued its streak of avoiding back-to-back losses in the postseason, and they are now just two games away from winning their 18th championship, which would break their current tie with the Lakers for the most all-time. The Celtics beat the Warriors in Game 3 in Boston 116-100, and now lead the series 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Friday night. The Celtics led by as much as 18 points in this one before a huge third quarter saw the Warriors take their only lead of the game with 4:20 to go in the third. Boston then responded with a run of their own and a huge fourth quarter to pull away from the Warriors on Wednesday night. According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, the Celtics are outsourcing the Warriors by 48 points in non-3rd quarters of this series. On the flip side, the Warriors have outscored the Celtics by 43 points in the third period. They will have to figure out a way to even the score in the non-3rd periods or this series could shift severely into the Celtics' favor.
On Wednesday, Boston got a big night out of their young core trio. Jaylen Brown was outstanding, scoring 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor (4-of-8 3-pointers) to go with nine rebounds, five assists, one block, and two turnovers in 40 minutes. He came out guns blazing, scoring 17 points in the opening quarter, tying Ray Allen for the Celtics’ franchise record for points in any finals quarter. Jayson Tatum added 26 points on 9-of-23 shooting (3-of-9 3-pointers) with nine assists, six rebounds, one steal, and two turnovers in 41 minutes. Brown and Tatum became the first pair of teammates in Celtics history to each make 50 3-pointers in a single postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Marcus Smart also was spectacular as he chipped in 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting (3-of-7 3-pointers) and grabbed seven rebounds with five assists and five turnovers. Golden State was also 0-of-9 from the floor when Smart contested their shot. The three became the first trio to each have 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in a Finals game since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Michael Cooper did so in 1984. So needless to say, this was a night for the ages for the three Boston guards.
Robert Williams was also a monster in this one, especially on the defensive end, as he anchored the Celtics’ interior, and was also rather efficient. The Timelord finished with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor to go with 10 rebounds, four blocks, three steals, and no turnovers in just 26 minutes. He became just the second Celtics player with at least three blocks and three steals in an NBA Finals game, joining Kevin McHale, who did so in Game 4 of the 1986 NBA Finals against the Rockets. With a quick turnaround for Friday’s Game 4 in Boston, it will be interesting to see how Williams’ knee will respond over the next 48 hours, but expect him to be listed as questionable again heading into that one. Tatum also showed some discomfort in his shoulder after he aggravated it on his first drive to the basket of the game on Wednesday. He was able to fight through the pain for the remainder of the game, but he was visibly in some pain, so don’t be surprised if he too ends up on the injury report ahead of Friday night’s Game 4. We will have more updates on both as they arrive between now and tip-off.
For the Warriors, they got another big night from Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson finally saw some shots go through the net, but it wasn’t enough to steal Game 3 in Boston. Curry poured in 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting from the floor (6-of-11 three-pointers) to go with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 37 minutes. Thompson added 25 points on 7-of-17 shooting (5-of-13 3-pointers) to go with three rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal in 39 minutes. Curry also got his legged rolled onto late in the fourth quarter, and though he never had to leave the game as a result, it is surely something to keep an eye on heading into Game 4 on Friday night.
Golden State will also need more from Draymond Green, who played 35 minutes and scored just two points on 1-of-4 shooting to go with four rebounds, three assists, and one block before fouling out on Wednesday night. He then got into an interesting exchange with Jake Fischer in the postgame press conference when Fischer asked if Green’s podcast gave Boston any competitive advantages from an X’s and O’s Standpoint. Green’s response was classic Draymond of course. Green also admitted that he did not play his best basketball and that he and his teammates will have to be better if they want to even the series at 2 games apiece on Friday night. We will see if this is the case on Friday, or if the Celtic will push the Warriors to the brink of elimination and go up 3-1 in the series.