Celtics hold off Warriors to grab 2-1 lead

Published June 9, 2022, 1:00 PMMiguel Flores

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combine for 53 points as Boston withstands Golden State's big rally and 31 from Steph Curry to win Game 3 of the NBA Finals.


Celtics 116, Warriors 100 (Boston leads series, 2-1)

What went down

Draymond Green pulled out all the disruptive tactics he had in his bag – everything from the sly to the downright nefarious.

Golden State needed it. The Boston Celtics, fueled by a ruckus TD Garden, took the fight out of them early in the game. Jaylen Brown had another magnificent start offensively. The Celtics dominated the paint, outrebounding the Warriors and locking down that area defensively.

Boston held on to a double-digit lead that ballooned to as many as 18 points in the third quarter. Golden State, true to form, rattled off their signature second-half run. 

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson tugged at Boston’s lead, until the Celtics collapsed in a single possession. Following a flagrant foul, and-1 on a Curry triple, the Warriors found Otto Porter Jr. for a wild 3 that splashed through the net, despite smothering defense. After yet another Curry triple, Golden State was all of a sudden back in the lead, 83-82, with four minutes left in the third period.

If there’s anything Boston has done well this postseason, it's absorbing their opponent’s best shot at getting up. The Warriors thought they had them in Game 1. Today, Golden State was in a frenzy in the third quarter yet again.

From there, the Celtics just kept coming at the Warriors. Their glaring size and athletic advantage over the Warriors was highlighted in the physicality of the fourth quarter. Bodies were flying everywhere. Today, it was bodies in gold and black jerseys hitting the deck hard.

Late in the fourth quarter with Boston up by 12, Draymond Green got into a scrap for a loose ball. Green, Curry, Grant Williams, and Al Horford crashed towards the ball, with Horford eventually gaining control of the possession after Green fouled him. It was Draymond’s sixth foul. He finished the game with two points, four rebounds, three assists, and six fouls.

The incursion also cost the Warriors the game as Curry was shaken up and struggled to get back up afterwards. With two minutes left, Golden State could have tried to cut into Boston’s 12-point lead. But not with Curry hurting.

Now, Boston is up 2-1 in a series that feels like they have their opponents figured out,  just like their conquests of Milwaukee and Miami. Those series went to seven games because of Boston’s carelessness. Can the Celtics close the Warriors out?

Big-time baller

Jaylen Brown has to be the leading candidate for Finals MVP after today’s game. He’s been rock solid through the first three games of this series and tonight was his most impactful.

Even with the Warriors putting Draymond Green on him, Brown got to his spots and finished with 27 points on 9-for-16 shooting with nine rebounds, five assists, and this emphatic block on Andrew Wiggins.

Brown’s game has been in full display in the Finals – from his defensive versatility to his tight ball handling. It’s him the Warriors have struggled to contain.

What he said

How did Draymond play today?

Did you see that?

The Boston crowd definitely came out today. Paul Pierce was, for better or for worse, got a lot of camera time as he led and urged the crowd to cheer for the Celtics in his 75th anniversary letterman jacket.

The most Boston thing to happen today was the return of the Boston home advantage. From the showers not working in the visitor’s locker rooms in the ‘80s to the various antics of the late 2000s, something has to go wrong for the visiting team in Boston. 

Today, the chicanery came during warmups as the Warriors noticed the rim on their side of the court was a couple of inches too high.