Boston Celtics control NBA Finals with 3-0 lead over Dallas Mavericks

Celtics are one win away from winning their first NBA championship since 2008 and breaking tie with Lakers.

Jayson Tatum, de los Celtics de Boston, logra un enceste ante los Mavericks de Dallas en el tercer partido de las Finales de la NBA, el miércoles 12 de junio de 2024 (AP Foto/Sam Hodde)
Jayson Tatum scored 30 points with 8 rebounds and 8 assists for Boston Celtics in Game 3 against Dallas Mavericks [Sam Hodde/AP]

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown shared a long hug after helping Boston avoid the biggest collapse in an NBA Finals game since at least 1997.

Tatum scored 31 points, Brown had 30 and the Celtics held off a furious Dallas rally to move to the verge of a record 18th championship with a 106-99 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday night for a 3-0 lead.

Brown finished with eight rebounds and eight assists as the Celtics extended their franchise record with a 10th consecutive playoff victory.  They can win the NBA Finals series and break a tie with the Lakers for most NBA championships with a victory on Friday in Dallas.

And Boston can forget about nearly blowing a 21-point lead with 11 minutes to go.

“Not really trying to look too much into it,” Tatum said.

“The game of basketball is about runs. It’s never going to go like you expected. If you want to be a champion, you have to be resilient in those situations, and we did that tonight.”

Boston also improved to 10-1 in these playoffs without Kristaps Porzingis after the 7-foot-2 Latvian was ruled out before the game because of a rare tendon injury in his lower left leg sustained in Game 2.

The status of Porzingis for the rest of the series appears in doubt, but it might not matter. None of the previous 156 teams to face a 3-0 deficit have rallied to win an NBA playoff series.

The Mavs almost pulled off a crazy comeback to avoid the big hole. Boston led 91-70 at the end of a 20-5 run early in the fourth quarter before Dallas answered with a 22-2 spurt to get within a point with 3:30 remaining.

The problem was, Luka Doncic picked up his sixth foul with 4:12 remaining when a challenge was unsuccessful before Kyrie Irving, who scored 35 points, hit a jumper to get Dallas within one.

Tatum and Brown saved the Celtics from there, with some help from Derrick White, who scored 16. Those three combined for the remaining 13 Boston points to get the Celtics within a victory of their first title since 2008, and just the second since 1986.

The Celtics have led 3-0 in the NBA Finals only once, finishing off the Lakers in a sweep in 1959.

‘Got to make history’

The first step for Dallas is trying to avoid getting swept in a seven-game series for just the second time in franchise history.

“We just got to make history,” rookie Mavs centre Dereck Lively II said. “We got to go out there and we just got to play like our lives are on the line.”

In a game that seemed over early in the fourth, the score was stuck on 93-90 for more than three minutes. That included when Doncic was called for a blocking foul on a driving Brown.

The Mavs had nothing to lose with the challenge since it meant trying to save their superstar from disqualification.

Without Doncic, PJ Washington Jr, Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr each missed a 3-pointer in the final minute as Irving’s personal losing streak against his former team reached 13 games.

“We had a good chance,” Doncic said. “We were close. Just didn’t get it. I wish I was out there.”

An energised Dallas crowd was ready for its first finals game in 13 years, with Super Bowl-winning quarterback and Mavs fan Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs frequently getting out of his seat near midcourt.

The Mavs used the needed boost coming off two losses in Boston, taking their biggest lead of the series while running out to a 22-9 lead. Doncic and Irving drove for buckets while also hitting a 3 apiece.

The Celtics answered with a 21-9 finish to the first quarter. Sam Hauser hit two of his first-half 3s – on three attempts – to help wrap up a run that started with four points from Brown and a 3 from Tatum.

Defence dominated the start of the second quarter, Boston holding a 5-2 edge nearly six minutes in before Irving and Tatum traded 3s to start a scoring burst.

“They came out swinging,” Tatum said. “That was to be expected. They were at home, the crowd was behind them. We expected their first punch.”

Once they withstood it, it appeared the Celtics would coast after outscoring the Mavs 35-19 in the third quarter, before the Mavs’ late rally.

After it was over, pockets of Celtics fans screamed with delight in a mostly empty arena, seemingly starting the celebration of the inevitable championship win.

Source: News Agencies