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Celtics beat Mavs in Game 3 of Finals to move one win from title

Celtics vs mavs

Celtics Push Mavericks to the Brink in Game 3 Comeback

DALLAS — For a few tense minutes in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, it seemed like the Boston Celtics’ old habits might catch up with them. The Dallas Mavericks, who appeared finished when they trailed by 21 points with 10 minutes left, staged a dramatic 22-2 run, threatening Boston’s lead and making it a competitive series.

But just when things looked their bleakest, the Celtics turned the tide, holding Dallas to just one field goal over a critical five-minute span. Boston secured a 106-99 victory, taking a commanding 3-0 series lead.

Boston is now one win away from a record-setting 18th NBA championship, which they could clinch on Friday in Game 4 at the American Airlines Center.

“Experience is the best teacher,” said Jaylen Brown, who finished with 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists in 41 minutes. “All year long we’ve been hearing about the Celtics’ past. For the last six to eight months, that’s all we’ve been hearing about — our shortcomings. This is a new team. We’ve learned from those experiences, and tonight we showed that.”

Earlier in the game, it looked like Boston had it under control, responding to a 25-12 Mavericks run with a dominant 79-45 stretch over the next 29 minutes, taking a commanding 91-70 lead with 11:07 remaining.

Despite the absence of Boston’s Kristaps Porzingis due to an injury, the Celtics seemed poised for victory. But Dallas quickly mounted a comeback. As Boston went 1-for-11 and committed three turnovers over the next 7:57, the Mavericks pulled to within 93-92 on a Kyrie Irving layup with 3:37 remaining, despite playing without Luka Doncic, who fouled out moments earlier. However, Boston regained momentum with key plays from Brown and Derrick White, pushing the lead back to six points.

“Yeah, I think just we had some turnovers, which allowed them to get out in transition,” White said. “And just a couple of things that we’ve been doing really well, we kind of just let go of the rope for however many minutes that was. It happened quick, and we just settled back down. Understand it’s a game of runs, and we just trust what we do.”

In the past, such moments might have seen the Celtics falter, but they persevered, improving to 7-0 on the road in these playoffs. Their 21-7 road record over the past three postseasons now marks the best winning percentage over a three-year span in NBA history.

Contributions came from across the roster. Backup center Xavier Tillman played 11 impactful minutes, hitting a corner three, grabbing four rebounds, and recording two blocks. Sam Hauser, who struggled in Game 2, went 3-for-4 from three-point range and was a game-high plus-16 off the bench. Jayson Tatum, after a poor shooting performance in Game 2, finished with 31 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. He and Brown combined for 61 points, putting the Celtics within one victory of moving ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for all-time league titles.

Despite their dominant position, Boston remains cautious. Reflecting on their near-comeback from a 3-0 deficit in last year’s Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, the Celtics are determined to stay focused.

“Honestly, not too difficult from the standpoint of last year [when] we were down 0-3 in the conference finals, and we really felt like we were going to come back,” Tatum said. “We almost did. You know, we were [my] sprained ankle away from having a real shot. So, you know, we are not relaxing or anything like that. You know, not even focusing on winning or Friday or whatever. However long it takes, that’s our motto. However long it takes, that’s what it’s going to take, and nobody is trying to relax at all.”

As the Celtics look ahead to Game 4, they know the championship is within their grasp, but they also know the importance of staying sharp and focused until the very end.