The Celtics Picked Up A Game 3 Win Over The Mavs To Move One Win Away From A Championship

The Boston Celtics are one win away from basketball immortality. Despite the fact that Kristaps Porzingis missed Game 3 of the 2024 NBA Finals due to a leg injury, the Celtics were able to ride a big third quarter en route to a 106-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks. As a result, the Celtics find themselves with a 3-0 series lead and their 18th NBA championship within their grasp.

With Porzingis out due to injury and Dallas finally playing in front of its home fans, the Mavs came out on fire to start the game. The team opened things up on a 9-2 run, with six of those points coming on shots right at the rim. Over and over the duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving attacked Boston in the paint, and got their lead up to as many as 13 points.

And then, Boston showed some serious resolve, as the Celtics went on an 11-0 run to get the lead down to two points. And while they were never able to take the lead in the game’s opening 12 minutes, the Celtics only faced a 1-point deficit at the end of the frame behind the best quarter Jayson Tatum’s played all series, as Dallas went into the second quarter up 31-30.

The second was one of the best quarters we’ve had in the Finals, as neither team was able to really gain a foothold and as a result, things were tied or the lead was passed back and forth. Much of this came down to Irving and Tatum looking like a pair of stars, with both players scoring 20 first half points and giving the opposing defense headaches.

Still, by the time the two teams went to the locker room for halftime, Dallas was holding on to a narrow 51-50 lead. In addition to the 20 points Irving scored, Doncic went for 17, while the Mavs absolutely pummeled the Celtics in the paint by a 30-16 margin.

Tatum did get some help off the bench from Sam Hauser, who had nine points and went 3-for-3 from behind the arc, while Al Horford had eight points after getting put in the starting lineup for Porzingis. While Jaylen Brown had a quiet scoring half — six points on 2-for-6 shooting — he pitched in five assists, three rebounds, and a block.

The Celtics started to impose their will in the third. Whether it was their offense looking more dominant than it had all game or their defense starting to clamp down on both Irving and Doncic, Dallas just had no answer on either end of the floor — this was, in large part, due to the fact that Doncic was just not very good, as Boston kept going after him on defense.

Brown, in particular, came to life in the third, going for 15 points in the frame. That nearly outscored the Mavs as a team, as Dallas only had 19 points.

And at the very end of the quarter, Brown put the exclamation point on things, as he cut through the lane like a hot knife threw butter and threw down an emphatic jam that gave the Celtics an 85-70 lead going into the fourth.

Boston started the fourth by getting its lead up to as many as 21 points, and while the game did not look completely over, it was becoming clear that Dallas was going to need something special if it wanted to keep its NBA championship aspirations alive. And then, they got it in the form of 12 consecutive points that cut the lead down to nine and injected some much-needed life into the American Airlines Center.

In all, the Mavs went on a 20-2 run that got the lead down to three points, and all the concerns about the Celtics’ ability to execute on offense late in a game reared their ugly head against a Dallas defense that was locked in.

But with 4:12 left in the game, Brown attempted to drive to the rim and drew a blocking foul against Doncic. This was the Mavs star’s sixth foul of the game, and while Jason Kidd basically had to challenge, it was determined that Doncic did, indeed, commit a foul that prematurely ended his night — it marked the first time in his career that he fouled out of a playoff game.

The Celtics immediately responded by getting their lead up to six points, but the Mavs kept chipping away, and a pair of dunks by Dereck Lively got them within two points. But between Boston bearing down and Dallas never getting the final bucket to take the lead, the Celtics were able to hold on and see out a win.

Tatum led the Celtics with 31 points, six rebounds, and five assists, while Brown went for 30 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Derrick White pitched in 16 points, while both Hauser and Jrue Holiday scored nine. As a team, Boston shot 17-for-46 (37 percent) from three, along with 26 assists on 38 made field goals. The duo of Irving (35 points) and Doncic (27 points, six rebounds, six assists) led Dallas, with Lively going for a 11-point, 13-rebound double-double off the bench and Washington scoring 13 points.

Now, Boston is on the verge of a championship, while Dallas will need a miracle if it wants to become the first team in NBA history to win a playoff series despite an 0-3 deficit. Game 4 will take place in Dallas on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC.