The Boston Celtics have taken a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals after defeating the Golden State Warriors 116-100 in Game 3.
In front of their raucous home fans, the Celtics started red-hot on the offensive end, highlighted by Jaylen Brown’s 17 points in the first quarter to carry his side to a 33-22 lead at the quarter-time.
Boston’s offense did not slow down in the second quarter, either, putting up another 35 points, but the Warriors were able to put up 34 themselves to stay within touching distance, down 68-56 at half-time.
Brown led the way with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the first half – nearly matching his regular season averages of 23.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
For the Warriors, Klay Thompson had 15 points, Stephen Curry had 14, and Andrew Wiggins had 13, while the rest of the team combined for 12.
As has been a theme with the Warriors, they exploded once again in the third quarter, winning the frame 33-25 as Curry scored another 15 points in an eight-minute stretch.
The Warriors took the lead 83-82 with Curry’s 15th point of the quarter, before the Celtics settled and fought back to take a 93-89 margin into the final break.
This Celtics team will be remembered as one of the finest defensive units of the modern era, and they relied on that end of the floor to pull out the win, holding the Warriors to just 11 points in the fourth quarter, while Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with eight down the stretch.
After setting a career-high of 13 assists in Game 1 of the Finals, Tatum showed it was no fluke, dishing another nine assists to go with his 26 points (nine-of-23 shooting).
Brown cooled off late to finish on 27 points (nine-of-16 shooting) with nine rebounds and five assists, while Marcus Smart put up similar numbers, scoring 24 points (eight-of-17 shooting) with seven rebounds and five assists.
The game-changer for the Celtics, however, was Robert Williams III. The injury-plagued center showed exactly why he received Defensive Player of the Year votes and NBA All-Defensive Second Team honours, finishing with four blocks and three steals to go with his eight points and 10 rebounds. Williams also finished with a game-high plus/minus of plus 21.
For the Warriors, Curry was terrific, scoring an efficient 31 points on 12-of-22 shooting, hitting six-of-11 from long range, while Thompson had his best game of the Finals with 25 points on seven-of-17 shooting.
Public enemy number one in Boston was Draymond Green, and the crowd gave him a fitting send-off when he fouled out in the fourth quarter with just two points, four rebounds and three assists in his 35 minutes.