Welcoming the Golden State Warriors to the first Finals game hosted at TD Garden in 12 years, the Boston Celtics couldn’t let the long-awaited contest slip through their fingers in a series-shifting tie-breaker with both teams at 1-1 leading up to Game 3.
So, the Celtics came out on Wednesday night, ready to match the Warriors’ scoring but also willing to size up against them on the defensive end.
Boston meshed both identities to lead an incredible 116-100 win over the Warriors, taking the NBA Finals series lead at 2-1.
The Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were exceptional on offense: combining for 77 points.
Boston’s offense was surgical in the first: opening lanes for a shifty Jaylen Brown to take defenders to the rim or allowing the backcourt to tempt Golden State out of guarding Al Horford in the paint for easy dishes to the big man.
Al Horford’s 11 points were largely delivered in the first half, but the effort proved superior to Game 2‘s two-point outing and gave Boston an early advantage. His size, alongside center Robert Williams, also provided the Celtics with an advantage on offensive boards over Golden State’s smaller lineup.
Williams finished with an efficient stat line: tallying eight points, 10 rebounds and four blocks — standing out in the Celtics’ defensive win as a game-changing defender with the ability to meet an opponent’s shot at the peak of its arc.
Golden State, needless to say, remained in the contest until the final moments courtesy of merciless three-point shooting from Steph Curry (6-of-11 3PM)
Curry led a seven-point possession by Golden State in the third, off an And-1 three-point make, and set up an ensuing possession where Otto Porter nailed a three-pointer to cut a commanding Boston lead down to two.
The Warriors were previously down by 18 points.
Curry came back to light it up with another three-pointer, taking the lead 83-82. He led Golden State with 31 points, followed by 25 from Klay Thompson.
The Celtics went into the fourth with a four-point lead.
Despite being outscored 33-25 in the third quarter, Boston still had a healthy amount of momentum off some opportune three-balls and Tatum’s slicing through GS’s defense and finishing at the rim.
Boston went on a 20-8 run lasting from 3:12 left in the third quarter to 9:08 in the fourth.
The Celtics climbed to a double-digit lead, and after watching Steph Curry flirt with a lower leg injury, Warriors coach Steve Kerr decided to pull his starters with several minutes left in the contest.
Ime Udoka’s Celtics held on for the win and will return to TD Garden on Friday for Game 4.
Teams that win Game 3 of the Finals go on to win the series 82.1 percent of the time.
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela