NBA Finals

Celtics pull away from Warriors for 2-1 edge in Finals

Celtics pull away from Warriors for 2-1 edge in Finals

ALL OUT. Warriors guard Stephen Curry drives to the basket against Celtics guard Marcus Smart.

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Celtics buck the Warriors' feared third-quarter run to take a 2-1 series lead

Jaylen Brown scored 17 of his 27 points in the first quarter and Jayson Tatum finished with 26 points to lift the host Boston Celtics to a 116-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, June 8 (Thursday, June 9, Manila time).

The Celtics grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 set for Friday in Boston.

Tatum had 9 assists and Brown added 5 to go along with 9 rebounds. Boston’s Marcus Smart finished with 24 points on Wednesday after mustering just two in the Celtics’ 107-88 loss in Game 2 on Sunday.

Al Horford collected 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists for Boston, which shot 48.3% from the floor to improve to 7-0 after a loss in the playoffs.

“I wanted to impose my will on the game and be aggressive,” said Tatum. “Whether I miss shots or not, I’m going to keep playing. My teammates believe in me to make the right play to get the best shot. All that matters is that we got the win.”

Golden State star Stephen Curry overcame early foul trouble to make six three-pointers and finish with 31 points. Curry remained in the game with 4:07 to play in the fourth quarter despite appearing to injure his left leg while vying for a loose ball.

Klay Thompson had 25 points and Andrew Wiggins added 18 for the Warriors, who benefited from their third straight strong third quarter in the series to trim their deficit to four points entering the fourth.

“Be poised. Stay calm. We’ve been here before,” Smart said of the Celtics’ mindset during Golden State’s third-quarter surge.

Tatum made two foul shots, a long jumper and two driving layups to start the fourth quarter and stake Boston to a 107-96 lead with 5:53 to play. Smart sank a corner three-pointer and made a bank shot to give the Celtics a 114-100 lead with 2:19 remaining.

Golden State, which outscored Boston by a 73-38 margin in the third quarter of Games 1 and 2, hoped for similar domination on Wednesday after entering the period with a 12-point deficit. Curry drained back-to-back three-pointers and made two more to give the Warriors an 83-82 lead before Smart answered from beyond the arc on the next possession.

Brown responded from a sluggish 5-for-17 shooting performance on Sunday with an aggressive start on Wednesday. He made 6-of-9 shots – including 3-of-4 from three-point range – in the first quarter.

The Warriors, who suffered a fourth-quarter collapse in Game 1 before responding with a blowout win in Game 2, struggled to match Boston’s physicality throughout.

One positive sign for the Warriors was that Thompson, who had poor shooting performances in the first two games of the series, came alive on Wednesday.

But the Warriors had no answer to Boston center Robert Williams, who grabbed 10 rebounds and helped the Celtics outscore the Warriors, 52-26, in the paint.

“He’s a presence at the rim at both ends,” Tatum said of Williams.

“He’s one of the best shot contesters in the league, and you’ve got to respect him at the rim as a lob threat. He puts so much pressure on the defense just by being out there.”

Tatum said the Celtics must keep their guard up against the experienced Warriors, who are appearing in their sixth Finals in eight years.

“We’re going to watch film, build off this, and get ready for the next one because we know they are going to come out extra aggressive and more prepared,” he said.

The Celtics are now two wins away from a record 18th NBA Championship, with Game 4 set for Friday in Boston. –