Thursday, June 13, 2024

Celtics 106, Mavericks 99: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown combine for 61 to secure Game 3 [BOS leads series, 3-0]

Fueled by a dominant third quarter and 61 combined points from their stars, Boston took a commanding 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals, defeating the Mavericks 106-99 Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.

Putting behind his inefficient scoring in the first two games, Jayson Tatum bounced back with 31 points–something that his teammates took note of.
"That was a big time win for us, I'm proud of how [Tatum] played today. He came out, was aggressive from the start,and he got us a victory today," Jaylen Brown said in his postgame interview with ESPN's Lisa Salters.
Scoring only six points in the first half, Brown was went off in the final two quarters with 24 of his 30 points, to go with an eight-assist and eight-rebound performance. Derrick White added 16 points, with Al Horford netted eight points in Kristaps Porzingis' absence -- ruled out of Game 3 with a dislocation of the left posterior tibialis.

Kyrie Irving finally woke up in a big way notching a game-high 35 points, while Doncic scored 27 points. P.J Washington chipped in 13 points, with Derrick Lively tallying 11 points and grabbing 13 rebounds off the bench for Dallas -- who find themselves on the brink of elimination.

Only a few minutes remained in the final frame and the Celtics held on to a narrow 93-90 lead, after squandering a 21-point advantage, all the pressure was on Boston to hold off the Mavericks. Driving to the paint, Jrue Holiday (nine points, and five assists), attracting attention dished out an athletic left handed pass to White, who knocked down a clutch 3-pointer with 2:40 left. 

With Doncic fouled out, Boston took full advantage, as Brown knocked down a huge mid-range jumper at the top of the key to make it a four point game with only a minute to play. 

Holding on to a four-point lead, the Celtics knew they would need to make a couple of key stops to seal the victory. On an island with Irving, Horford held his own defensively, forcing him into a difficult shot. White leaped into the air, attempted to get a defensive rebound, and was fouled with multiple Maverick defenders surrounding him. 

Boston knocked down their free throws, and secured their ninth straight road victory in the postseason. Tested to the very end, Brown was happy with their resiliency, riding the ups and downs the fourth quarter brought.
"This is basketball, they went on a run, they had some momentum, but we kept our poise. We got some good shots going in and we found a way to win," said Brown.
Expected to come out with some energy, Dallas was firing on all cylinders early behind their two All-Stars by getting out to a 21-9 start, as the Mavericks looked in complete control early. However, Boston responded quickly led by their own star duo. Tatum got off to a much needed hot shooting display in a hostile environment. 

Following a layup by Brown in transition, Tatum knocked down an important 3-pointer off a Brown assist to cut the deficit down to only six with 3:23 to play in the first half. Boston would go on to sustain the offensive pressure with a Sam Hauser (nine points) 3-pointer that capped off an 11-0 run. 

Dallas would still apply pressure to the end of the second quarter, but another Hauser trey paired with a last minute Tatum dunk would leave the team only being down by one (51-50) at the half.

Boston built off their momentum and had a sense of urgency heading into the third period, as the offense came alive. After both teams traded baskets for the first few minutes of the quarter, the Celtics' run started off with a Tatum trey three minutes in. Boston grabbed their first lead of the night while excelling defensively and going on 21-10 spurt. 

Brown's capped off a 15-point third by attacking the paint and finishing with a thunderous one-handed slam  with the game clock ran down -- to put the Celtics ahead for good 85-70 heading into the final 12 minutes and limiting the Mavericks offense to only 19 total points for the quarter.

Continuing right where they left off, Boston knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to start the fourth, but the offense would go ice cold very quickly despite a 21-point lead. Dallas would have other ideas, getting out to a 22-2 scoring run, as the C's turnovers and bad shot selections fed right into the Mavs' comeback. Attracting attention from the Celtics defense, Doncic found wide open teammates, and all momentum shifted to Dallas.

With their deficit cut to as low as three, things would get tougher for Dallas, as Brown would force two straight Doncic fouls, and would head to the bench with his six personal fouls with just 4:12 left to play. Boston knocked down key shots and all their free throws in the final minutes, which ultimately sealed it and are now one victory away from winning a championship. 

Reflecting on showing up in the huge moments of Game 3, Tatum and his co-star embraced after the game, showing appreciation for one another, and looking ahead at finishing the job.
"We're not necessarily saying one more or anything like that, just however long it takes. Nobody's relaxed, nobody's satisfied," Tatum said in his postgame presser. "I told [Brown] I was proud of him and he said the same thing."
The Celtics hope to clinch the series Friday night on the road in Game 4 and secure banner 18, which will be available to watch on ABC at 8:30 pm ET. 

Game Notes:

Boston finished with 26 assists on 38 field goals made, while the Mavericks had 15 dimes on the same amount of baskets. Dallas dominated the C's in the paint with a 52-36 points advantage. The Celtics were deadly from deep, making 17 threes and holding the Mavs to only nine made from behind the arc on 25 attempts on the night. 

Ian Carrano

Photo used courtesy The Boston Globe

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