After being unable to hold onto double-digit leads in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Boston Celtics on Saturday night finally built up a lead that was too great for the Miami Heat to overcome.
Boston went on a 23-8 run right in the middle of Game 3 that enabled it to build a 20-point lead, which proved to be more than enough of a cushion as it would walk away with a 117-106 win.
The Celtics were ahead 51-48 with a little less than three minutes remaining in the second quarter when its massive run began. They outscored the Heat 12-2 over a two-minute span, earning scoring contributions from all five players on the court – Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker.
The C's went into halftime with a 63-50 lead, and they were still hot when they emerged out of the tunnel for the third quarter. Daniel Theis and Brown extended the lead to 67-55, and then Grant Williams entered the game and quickly put up five points over a 50-second stretch.
By the midway point of the third, Boston was ahead 78-60 and was still climbing. The Heat managed to pull within fighting distance during the final frame, but just couldn't pull off another comeback effort as the C's came away with an 11-point, bounceback victory to place them one win away from tying the series.
Jayson Tatum has been doing a little bit of everything during these Playoffs, and he was at it again Saturday night. The third-year wing came within striking distance of his first career triple-double, as he put forth 25 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for the Celtics.
In doing so, Tatum became just the second player since 1965 to log four playoff games of at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists before turning 23, joining LeBron James.
Not only did Tatum lead his team in rebounding and assists, but he also posted a game-best plus-23 rating, while playing exactly 41 minutes. No one else logged greater than a plus-15 during the 11-point victory.
Box Score Nuggets
- The Celtics had four 20-point scorers, led by Jaylen Brown (26 points).
- The other Celtics to reach that mark were Jayson Tatum (25 points), Kemba Walker (21 points) and Marcus Smart (20 points).
- Smart was a career-best 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
- Bam Adebayo led the game in scoring and rebounding with 27 points and 16 boards.
- Boston had a 60-36 scoring advantage inside the paint.
- The Celtics nearly had a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, posting 27 assists and 14 turnovers.
- In his first game back from injury, Gordon Hayward logged six points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals in 31 minutes off the bench.
- Boston and Miami combined to attempt 64 free-throws with the Heat attempting four more than the C's.
- The Celtics led by as many as 20 points, while Miami never led at any point.
Quote of the Night
I was curious to see what would happen tonight, but I didn't have much doubt. I think this group has some good character.
Brad Stevens on his team's response after losing Games 1 and 2.