2024 NBA Finals:10 Need-To-Knows From Game Three

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DALLAS – After storming through the regular season with a league-best 64-18 record, the Boston Celtics have been just as dominant in the postseason. They now find themselves on the cusp of the franchise’s 18th NBA title following their 106-99 Game 3 win over Dallas.

Here are the top 10 takeaways from their Game 3 win that now has the Dallas Mavericks on the brink of playoff elimination.

1. MOURNING THE DEATH OF JERRY WEST

Game 3 opened on a somber note with the passing of Los Angeles Lakers great Jerry West earlier in the day. A moment of silence was held in remembrance of West before Game 3’s tip-off. West won NBA titles with the Lakers as a player, coach, and front-office executive and was a three-time inductee into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He was also known as “The logo” for being the inspiration behind the basketball player silhouette that adorns all NBA jerseys. He was 86 years old.

2. LUKA DONCIC FOULS OUT

Dallas star Luka Doncic was in a particularly foul mood after fouling out in Game 3. Doncic was called for his sixth personal foul with four minutes and 12 seconds to play. At the time, the Mavericks had trimmed a 21-point Celtics lead down to just three points (93-90). Dallas coach Jason Kidd challenged the foul call, but his challenge was unsuccessful. It was the first time in 48 playoff games that Doncic had fouled out.

3. KYRIE IRVING SIGHTING

After scoring a total of just 28 points in Games 1 and 2, Kyrie Irving finally had an Irving-like performance in the Finals. He led Dallas with 35 points on 13-for-28 shooting in Game 3.

4. FIRST HALF TATUM IMPRESSIVE
The calls for Jayson Tatum to be a more dominant scorer akin to what he did during the regular season, have not gone unnoticed. He delivered in Game 3 when his team needed him the most. With most of the Celtics struggling to make shots in the first half, it was Tatum carrying much of the scoring load. He would lead all Celtics with 31 points, 20 of which came in the first half.

5. DERRICK WHITE, THE CLOSER
The lone regular starter for Boston who has never been an All-Star, Derrick White continues to be one of Boston’s go-to players in late-game, down-to-the-wire situations. In Game 3 he had 16 points, with eight coming during a pivotal fourth quarter stretch that was key to Boston getting the win.

6. DALLAS’ SUPPORTING CAST MISSING
There was a heightened level of desperation by Dallas in Game 3, evident by head coach Jason Kidd using 11 different players in the first half. Most teams this time of year, go eight, maybe nine deep for the game. It didn’t matter. None of Dallas’ players outside of Doncic and Irving made much of an impact which is very different from what they had done leading up to the Finals.

7. FINALS MVP RACE A TIGHT ONE
Jaylen Brown was the Eastern Conference finals MVP. And after an informal poll of reporters following Boston’s Game 3 win, it appears he’s on track to be named NBA Finals MVP as well. In the three games thus far, Brown is averaging 24.3 points, six rebounds, 5.7 assists, and two steals per game. His stiffest competition for the award is expected to come from Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday.

8. MAZZULLA YOUNG BUT READY
If the Boston Celtics win an NBA championship which they are expected to do now, head coach Joe Mazzulla would be the second-youngest coach to win an NBA championship. The youngest? That would be the late Celtics great Bill Russell. He was 35 years old when he won his first title as a coach, in 1969. While Mazzulla would also be 35 years old, he’ll be 36 at the end of this month. Russell won a title in 1969 just four months after having turned 35 years old.

9. DEFENSIVE LOCKDOWN CONTINUES FOR CELTICS
One of the keys to Boston’s Game 3 win has been their defense which has stifled teams all season. By keeping the Mavericks to less than 100 points scored in Game 3, Boston improved its record (regular season and playoffs) to 25-0 when opponents score less than 100 points. That is tied for the fourth-most victories in NBA history without a loss while holding opponents to less than 100 points scored.

10. BY THE NUMBERS
156: The Celtics became the 157th team in NBA history to take a 3-0 series lead in the playoffs. The previous 156 each went on to win the series. That includes nine four-game sweeps in the NBA Finals.



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