The Boston Celtics were plagued by another awful third quarter, but rallied in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Golden State Warriors and win Game 3 of the NBA Finals by 16 points. The Celtics are now up 2-1 in the NBA Finals and just two wins away from a championship.
The Warriors can’t afford to lose another road game and are seeking to even the series in Game 4, slated for Friday night at TD Garden in Boston.
The Celtics opened as -3.5 favorites, but the line moved to -4 overnight. They are now -240 odds to win the series and the 2022 championship. The Warriors are +200 odds to pull off a comeback to win the title.
Celtics: big 3
The Celtics’ big three — Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart — combined for 77 points in the victory. All three scored at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists, which hasn’t happened since the Showtime Lakers pulled off the feat in the 1984 NBA Finals with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Cooper.
Brown led the Celtics with 27 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Tatum added 26 points, nine assists, and six rebounds. Smart chipped in 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
The Celtics are 15-0 over their last 15 games in which Tatum has seven or more assists. Simply put, when Tatum distributes the rock after penetrating or drawing double teams, the Celtics thrive.
The Celtics still have a third-quarter problem, though. It wasn’t as bad as in previous games, but they were outscored 33-25 and let the Warriors back in the game.
“Our team really stayed poised in those moments,” said Al Horford. “As you know, earlier in the year, that could have gone south quickly. But we stayed right with it and just locked in and didn’t panic, and just continued to play.”
The Warriors trimmed a double-digit deficit to two points before the Celtics pulled away in the fourth quarter.
“We called a timeout, regrouped, figured it out, and made winning plays,” said Tatum. “I was definitely proud of the group for that.”
“Another bounce-back from us,” added Celtics head coach Ime Udoka. “My message to the group was, ‘We’ve done this after losses; let’s respond the right way after a win now.'”
Warriors: 11 points in 4Q
Controversial official Scott Foster was the crew chief for Game 3, and the Warriors had two of their starters whistled for quick and early fouls. Curry got two fouls in the first six minutes of the first quarter. Heading into halftime, Kevon Looney and Curry had three fouls each.
Despite the early foul trouble, Curry tried to make up for his cautious defense with another strong offensive effort, putting up a game-high 31 points and six 3-pointers. Curry made an even stronger case for being the NBA Finals MVP on a potential runner-up team.
Klay Thompson snapped out of his funk with five treys and 25 points. However, the rest of the team struggled to find good shots. Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Draymond Green combined for 2-for-12 from downtown. Green wasn’t happy with his two-point output and describe his playing as “utter shit” and “soft.”
“When you allow a team to get comfortable, especially in their home in front the home crowd, then it’s tough,” said Green.
The Warriors went cold in the fourth quarter and scored just 11 points. The Celtics didn’t give them any easy buckets by limiting their turnovers to just four in the second half. Their defense also prevented Curry from inflicting any damage in transition.
The worst part of the loss was seeing Curry go down with a left leg injury with 4:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. He got tangled up chasing a loose ball, and Al Horford fell on him.
“I got caught, obviously in some pain, but I’ll be all right,” said Curry. “See how it feels tomorrow and get ready for Friday.”
Check out more coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.