November 29, 2022

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USATSI

The Boston Celtics took it to the Golden State Warriors in every facet on Wednesday, assuming a 2-1 Finals lead with a 116-100 win in Game 3. Jaylen Brown dominated the first quarter, and Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart took control from there. In total, that trio posted 77 points, 22 rebounds and 19 assists. 

  • Brown: 27 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST
  • Tatum: 26 PTS, 9 AST, 6 REB
  • Smart: 24 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST

Per ESPN Stats and Info, that’s the first time a trio of teammates has each recorded at least 20-5-5 in a Finals game since 1984, when Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper did it for the Lakers. 

Apprised of the feat, Jayson Tatum said in his on-court postgame interview: “I was born in ’98, so that was way before my lifetime.”

Boston had a few lapses on Wednesday, but for the better part of 48 minutes they played an almost flawless game. They spaced the floor, attacked downhill quickly before the help defense could set against them, and Tatum and Brown were terrific in passing early in their drives, before the help arrived and they wound up in traffic. That led to open 3s and secondary penetration opportunities against a scrambling defense. 

Boston also obliterated the Warriors with their size. Robert Williams blocked four shots and discouraged a bunch more. The Celtics grabbed 15 offensive rebounds off their 46 misses, nearly a 33 percent rate, which is huge. It was over 40 percent at one point. The Warriors do not have the size or athleticism to deal with Boston in the paint, where they Celtics outscored Golden State 52-26. The Warriors not being able to contain penetration on the perimeter exacerbates that issue. 

It’s still a tight series. But just like Game 2 after losing the opener, Game 4 feels like a must-win for the Warriors. Coming back from down 3-1 against a Boston team that has advantages all over the court would require a basketball miracle. Boston cane up big on Wednesday, and it has a chance to put a stranglehold on the series on Friday. 

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