Boston responds in game 3 with decisive win

By Brendan Beauregard

And just like that, we have ourselves a series, ladies and gentlemen. The Boston Celtics made a statement last night with a wire-to-wire game 3 win, 117-106, vs. the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston rolled in like Kylo Ren vs Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and kept yelling “MORE!” for more baskets. Having a lead as big as 20 at one point, the Celtics scored 60 points in the paint, the most they’ve scored in that area in any game so far in the conference finals. Boston top stars—Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart—all combined for 92 of Boston’s 117 points. Brown led the team with 26 points.

“Very, very important to control the paint,” Brown said after the game. “I just had to get back to what I do best…What I do best is get to the basket.”

Let me say this, Brown didn’t just get to the basket, he obliterated it. He shot a crisp 11-17 from the field and had an offensive rating of 131. Talk about responding after a frustrating last two games that included reports of Brown and Smart going off on each other.

“At the end of the day we’re a family,” Brown said when discussing how the team was.  “We represent this organization, we represent each other and we won’t ever let anything come in between that.”

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Regarding Smart, Brad Stevens changed up the defensive matchups and put Smart in charge of taking on Miami’s Goran Dragic, who has been on fire, averaging 27 points on 55% shooting so far in this series, and got his hot play snuffed right out by Smart. Dragic shot an ugly 2 of 10 with just 11 points, five turnovers, and a plus/minus rating of minus-29. That’s reason number 1,748 why Marcus Osmond Smart is a first-team all-defense kind of player. 

Adding to Boston’s overall defense last night, they held Miami to 38.8% shooting and 27% from beyond the three-point line. That stat line from last night gets the honor of the “that’s just not good” recognition badge.

Speaking of last night, last night saw the return of Gordon Hayward for Boston. Though he scored only six points on 2-7 shooting, having Hayward back helped right the Celtics ship. 

“We’re so much better when he’s out there,” Jayson Tatum said postgame when asked about Hayward’s return.

Focusing on Tatum for a second, he had a quiet yet effective double-double of 25 points and 14 rebounds. If a star player like Tatum had that good of a game and wasn’t the main source of attention, that is a big problem for the Heat if that continues on.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said it best after the game, “Our whole team was aggressive. Our whole team played with the right mentality.” Some of Boston’s players like Jayson Tatum don’t see why they shouldn’t continue this new style of play. “I think we should play like that all the time,” Tatum said when talking about how the team played. “Like we’re fighting for our lives.”

If Boston can bottle up this onslaught of offensive and defensive pressure they utilized last night and use it for the remainder of the series, it will be hard to stop the Celtics from breaking their stride and slowing them down because they want to keep on moving. Celtics in 6.