The Golden State Warriors’ last chance for a comeback win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals ended during a scramble that benefited Boston
BOSTON — Throughout the postseason, the Boston Celtics had played their best basketball away.
Jaylen Brown scored 27 points, Jayson Tatum added 26 and the Celtics rode the energy of a raucous TD Garden crowd to repel another Golden State attack in the third quarter with a 116-100 win Wednesday night that gave them a 2: 1 lead earned the NBA Finals.
Marcus Smart added 24 points and helped fuel a defensive effort that kept the Warriors on 11 points in the fourth quarter — the third-least in a shot-clock-era endgame.
“Game 2, they brought us the Heat,” Smart said. “It left a bad taste in our mouths for us because we’re attached to the defensive effort and being a physical team. It definitely woke us up a bit.”
Tatum said the fact that the Celtics didn’t hang their heads after the Warriors’ success in the third quarter was something they didn’t always do in the regular season.
“I think we are at our best when we react to difficult situations. We react to teams going to runs and things like that,” he said. “I think we did that several times tonight.”
Boston improved to 6-4 at home compared to 8-3 away this postseason. The Celtics have not lost two games in a row since late March.
Stephen Curry led Golden State with 31 points and six 3-pointers. He had 15 points in a 33-25 third quarter from the Warriors but was injured late in the fourth after Al Horford rolled in his leg on a loose ball. It was similar to a game during the regular season where Smart dove into Curry’s legs while chasing a loose ball.
Klay Thompson broke out of a finals slump to finish with 25 points and five 3s. But the Warriors’ shooting failed to save them on a night where the more athletic Celtics overtook them with a 47-31 rebound advantage.
“When you allow a team to be comfortable, especially at home – in front of a home crowd, it’s tough,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green.
Robert Williams III, who worked his way back from knee surgery, finished the tournament with eight points, ten rebounds and four blocks.
“We’ve talked about it quite a bit, our group being resilient and able to push through a lot of things and being able to focus on defense at times when it’s most needed,” he said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “We did that in the fourth quarter”
Game 4 is Friday in Boston.
Despite Curry’s noticeable limp after the game with Horford, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that wasn’t why he pulled him out of the game in the closing minutes.
“The injury didn’t put him out of the game but I got him out with 14 points two minutes from the end because we didn’t want to catch up,” said Kerr. “We’ll know more tomorrow.”
The previous 39 teams split the first two games of the finals, with the winner of Game 3 winning the series 82% of the time.
Fueled by the energy of a Garden crowd that mocked Green during his miserable night in the first NBA Finals game in Boston since 2010, the Celtics started fast and led by as much as 18 points in the first half.
After a Game 2 loss that saw Boston turn the ball 19 times, the Celtics’ ball motion was much clearer down the half court, resulting in open perimeter shots, favorable 1-on-1 matchups and driving lanes.
It had the Warriors crawling at times, which contributed to three fouls against Curry in the first 24 minutes.
But just as Boston played, its early lead in the third quarter was wiped out by a seven-point possession from the Warriors that included a four-point play from Curry when he flagrantly 1-fouled Horford and a 3-pointer -Foul by Otto Porter Jr. pulled to put Golden State ahead 83-82.
Boston rebounded to take a 93-89 lead in the fourth quarter and then surpassed Golden State 23-11 in the quarter.
The Celtics led 56-39 before an 8-0 sprint in just 37 seconds as the Warriors cut the lead to 56-49 after Curry had a layup left at the half with 3:32. Boston went into the half with a 68-56 lead at the end of the half.
Warrior: Shot 8 of 23 in the first period. … were beaten in color at 52-26.
Celtics: Shot 57% in the first half (27 of 47. Including 8 of 18 of 3. … With two 3-pointers from Brown in the first quarter, he and Tatum became the first pair of teammates in Celtics history to each make 50-3 points in a single postseason.
Green was involved in tussles with Brown and Grant Williams in Game 2 – one that ended in a technical foul on Green.
He had another brief encounter with Williams on Wednesday in the second quarter when Williams grounded Green in midfield.
A foul was called on Williams, but he and Green had a brief faceoff before being quickly separated by officials.
In the third quarter, Green hit the ground fighting Brown for a loose ball. This time, Green was called for the foul.
The Celtics hit three of their first four shots and scored 10 straight points to take a 10-2 lead.
Boston’s lead grew to 18-9 when a fast break ended with Curry canceling his second foul trying to contest Smart’s layup at 5:44 in the quarter.
Curry stayed in the game and Golden State moved into the zone, but it did little to slow Boston, who stretched their lead to as much as 15 points. The Celtics went into the second third with a 33-22 lead.
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https://www.king5.com/article/sports/celtics-beat-warriors-116-100-take-2-1-lead-in-nba-finals/103-5c97eed5-ac39-47c6-940f-5fb33552a6f1 Game 3: NBA Finals, Celtics beat Warriors