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CelticsBlog - All Posts

14 June 2024

A Boston Celtics Blog: 17 Banners and Counting
  • Celtics (3-0) at Mavericks (0-3) NBA Finals Game #4 6/14/24
    Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

    Banner 18 is just one win away!!!!

    The NBA Finals continue in Dallas with Game 4. The Celtics are up 3-0 in the series and are looking to close out the series in a sweep with a win in this game. The Celtics have won 10 straight games in these playoffs and are undefeated on the road, going a perfect 7-0. The Mavericks are 5-4 at home so far in the playoffs.

    The Mavericks are facing a very tough task if they hope to win the series. In NBA history, 156 teams have been down 0-3 in the a 7 game series in the playoffs. Of those 156 teams, none have come back to win the series. Only four teams have even forced a Game 7 after trailing 3-0, and only one did it in the Finals.

    The first and only team to force a Game 7 in the NBA Finals were the 1951 New York Knicks. On April 21, 1951, the Knicks lost Game 7 to the Rochester Royals, now the Sacramento Kings, by just four points and ending their quest to come back from 0-3. Both the Celtics and the Mavericks have experience in this area but on different ends of the 0-3 deficit.

    In the 2003 Western Conference first-round, the Portland Trailblazers were down 0-3 to the Dallas Mavericks and forced a Game 7, only to lose to the Mavericks. Celtics fans (and these Celtics) will remember the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics lost the first 3 games and fought back to force a Game 7. The Celtics may have been the first team to win after falling behind 0-3 if it wasn’t for Jayson Tatum spraining his ankle in Game 7.

    The odds of a sweep are more likely than a team coming back from 0-3. There have been 76 Finals series in NBA history. 10 of those series have ended in a sweep. The first sweep in NBA Finals history was also involved the Boston Celtics. In 1959. Bill Russell and Bob Cousy swept the Minneapolis Lakers, winning four straight games.

    However, Kyrie Irving does have some experience in making Finals history that could give the Mavericks hope. In 2016, Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were the first and only team to ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. In that series, the Warriors won Games 1 and 2 but the Cavaliers won Game 3. The Warriors won Game 4 but the Cavs held on to win Games 5, 6 and 7 to win the series. The Celtics need to do their best to avoid letting the Mavericks win even one game.

    After playing in the first 2 games, Kristaps Porzingis is back on the injury list. There are narratives that the Celtics can’t win the title without Porzingis, but, they have had a lot of experience playing without him, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. The Celtics are 21-4 without Porzingis in the regular season and 13-2 without him in the playoffs. Their win in Game 3 is proof that they can beat the Mavericks without him.

    Porzingis came up limping after coming down awkwardly in the third quarter of Game 2. He tried to play through the injury but didn’t finish the game. He suffered a torn medial retinaculum. He is listed as day to day and was held out of Game 3. Porzingis was seen going through shootaround Thursday and has not been ruled out for Game 4 as yet His status is a game time decision.

    As he has been throughout the post season, Luka Doncic is once again on the injury list. He has been listed as probable with a right knee sprain and left ankle soreness almost every game in the first 3 rounds but has not missed a game yet. Before Game 2, he was downgraded to questionable with a chest contusion and was wrapped up like a mummy before the game but played the game and didn’t seem to be hampered at all by the list of ailments. He played in Game 3 and is expected to play in this game as well.

    Probable Celtics Starters

    Celtics Reserves
    Al Horford
    Oshae Brissett
    Sam Hauser
    Svi Mykhailiuk
    Payton Pritchard
    Jordan Walsh
    Jaden Springer
    Xavier Tillman
    Neemias Queta
    Luke Kornet

    2 Way Players
    JD Davison
    Drew Peterson

    Kristaps Porzingis (lower leg) questionable

    Head Coach
    Joe Mazzulla

    Probable Mavericks Starters

    Mavericks Reserves
    Dante Exum
    Josh Green
    Tim Hardaway, Jr
    Jaden Hardy
    Maxi Kleber
    AJ Lawson
    Dereck Lively II
    Markieff Morris
    Dwight Powell
    Oliver-Maxence Prosper

    Two-Way Players
    Greg Brown III
    Alex Fudge
    Brandon Williams

    Luka Doncic (ankle/knee/chest) probable

    Head Coach
    Jason Kidd

    Key Matchups

    Jrue Holiday vs Luka Doncic
    As it was in the first 3 games, Doncic vs Holiday is the key matchup. Doncic finished Game 1 with 30 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals while shooting 46.2% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc.He finished Game 2 with 32 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 steals and 8 turnovers while shooting 57.1% from the field and 44.4% from beyond the arc. In Game 3, he finished with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steal while shooting 40.7% from the field and 14.3% from beyond the arc. He is very tough to defend as he can shoot from pretty much anywhere on the court. He has played a lot of iso ball and the Celtics have been forcing him to play defense. Because of that, he hasn’t been very effective in the 4th quarter, going 1-5, 1-6 and 1-4 in the 4th quarters of the 3 games so far. Hopefully, the Celtics can continue that trend in this game.

    Derrick White vs Kyrie Irving
    In Game 1, Irving finished with 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals while shooting 31.6% from the field and 0-5 on threes. In Game 2, he finished with 16 points, 2 rebounds, and 6 assists while shooting 38.9% from the field and 0-3 from beyond the arc. In Game 3, he played much better, finishing with 35 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists, while shooting 46.4% from the field and 66.7% from beyond the arc. He played very poorly in the first 2 games of that 2016 series but came back to finish strong to help them to win the series, including a game winner in Game 7 so the Celtics can’t count him out. He will likely play well in Game 4 also.

    Honorable Mention
    Jayson Tatum vs PJ Washington
    Washington was a big addition to the Mavs at the trade deadline and gave them added defense along with another scorer. In Game 1, Washington finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist while shooting 45% from the field and 0-3 from beyond the arc. In Game 2, he finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block. In Game 3, he finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists, while shooting 33.3% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc. Role players usually play much better at home and so the Celtics need to be ready for a big game from him and keep him out of the paint and off of the boards.

    Keys to the Game
    Defense - Defense is always the number one key to winning games, especially in the playoffs. There is no truer statement than “Defense wins Championships.” The Celtics have held the Mavericks under 100 points in the first 3 games. The Mavs are 8th with a defensive rating of 111.4 while the Celtics are 3rd with a defensive rating of 107.6. When the Celtics struggle on offense, as they did in Game 2, they have to be able to stop the other team from scoring. The Mavs are likely to attempt more 3’s this game and the Celtics need to be ready to defend them tighter on the perimeter. The Celtics need to play tough, lock down defense for the entire game. The Mavericks have players who can put up a lot of points in a hurry if the Celtics don’t play tough team defense. Defense won the first 3 games and is likely going to be what wins this series.

    Rebound- Second to defense, rebounding is the key to winning. One of the few times I have agreed with Pat Riley was when he said “No rebounds, no rings.” Much of rebounding is effort and the Celtics have to put out extra effort to win the battle of the boards. When they work hard on the boards, it usually follows through to the rest of the game as well. In Game 1, the Celtics out-rebounded the Mavs 47-43 but they were out-rebounded in Game 2 43-41 and also in Game 3, 43-36. The Celtics need to put out extra effort on the boards to keep the Mavs from getting extra possessions and second chance points and to give the same to themselves.

    Maximum Effort for 48 Minutes - The Celtics have to play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer. It will be important to get off to a strong start. Dallas is 8-3 when they win the first quarter and the Celtics are 11-0 when they win the first quarter. They have to play hard on offense and especially on defense with no let up. The Mavericks are the toughest team that they have faced in the playoffs and nothing less than full effort from every player every minute they are in will do. The Celtics need to be aggressive in defending, going to the basket and. especially in rebounding. The two games the Celtics lost in these playoffs were mostly due to a lack of effort, especially on defense. They can’t let the Mavs play harder than them if they want to win this game.

    Play of the Supporting Cast - Both of these teams have 2 big stars. The Celtics have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown while the Mavericks have Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. One or both of the stars for both teams have played well so far in the series. The play of the other starter and role players may very well decide this game. The Mavericks will be depending on PJ Washington, Derrick Jones Jr, Daniel Gafford, Dereck Lively and assorted others to help out their stars. The Celtics will depend on Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Al Horford, Payton Pritchard, Sam Hauser and maybe others. I know which supporting cast I would pick. The Celtics have to play as a team with each player contributing on both ends of the court.

    On the Road - The Celtics are playing on the road once again. They need to keep their focus on playing the right way and not let the distractions of the road take away that focus. Over the past 3 years, Boston has gone 21-7 on the road in the playoffs. This is the best road record in the playoffs over a 3 year period. The Mavericks, especially the role players, are likely to play better on their home court and in front of their fans. The Celtics need to dig down deep and match the energy of the Mavs and continue to play Celtics basketball on the road.

    Close Out Game - It is a well known fact that close out games are the hardest to win. The team that is down has their backs against the wall and play with desperation and the team that is up tends to let up, knowing that they have another chance if they don’t finish it here. Once again Kyrie Irving has experience in close out games that he can use to encourage his teammates. Irving was a perfect 14-0 in closeout games before a loss in Game 4 to the Timberwolves spoiled his perfect record. The Celtics have to remember their failure to close out the ECF last season and the Finals in 2022 and come into this game determined to close out the series in this game. They don’t want to give the Mavericks confidence.

    Officiating - The officiating can always be an x-factor. Every crew calls the game a little differently and teams need to adjust to how the game is being called. Will they call the game tight or will they let them play? The Celtics can’t let the officiating take away their focus and they have to adjust to the way the refs are calling it. The Celtics need to build a lead so as not to have to worry about a call causing them to lose at the end of the game. In Game 3, Luka spent more time complaining to the refs than he did playing defense. We can only hope he will do that again.

    Official Report
    Crew Chief - Scott Foster
    Foster has a home win/loss record of 48-28 this season. In these playoffs he calls 51% of fouls on the road team and 49% on the home team. Boston is 9-1 in their last 10 games with Foster as an official, including the Game 1 win over the Cavs and Game 2 loss to the Pacers. Dallas is 5-5 in their last 10 with Foster, including 5/29 loss to the Minnesota and 5/9 win over OKC. The Celtics are 73-60 all time with Foster while the Mavericks are 73-72 all time in games Foster calls. Foster is known as the Fixer and The Extender and is known for trying to keep games competitive as well as trying to extend series to extra games. He was voted the worst ref in the league in a poll taken of league referees (just ahead of Tony Brothers, who is in the replay center). Just the name Scott Foster tends to cause fear and gnashing of teeth by every fan base in the league. He can be very good but he can also be very bad. He has been good in the Celtics recent games. He called Game 4 of the Celtics sweep of Brooklyn in 2022.

    Referee: David Guthrie
    Guthrie has a home win/loss record of 26-37. The Celtics are 8-3 in their last 10 games with Guthrie as a ref, including the 4/24 loss to Miami, the 5/15 win over the Cavs and the 5/21 win over the Pacers. The Mavericks are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Guthrie, including 5/13 loss to OKC and 4/21 loss to the Clippers. He calls 44% of fouls against the road team and 56% against the home team. The Celtics are 79-45 all time with Guthrie on the court while the Mavs are 55-29 all time with Guthrie. In last year’s Finals, Guthrie was seen encouraging Michael Malone to challenge a call against the Nuggets which has caused some controversy.

    Umpire - James Williams
    Williams has a home win/loss record of 46-28. He calls 54% of fouls on the road team and 46% on the home team. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games with Williams on the crew including 5/11 win over the Cavs and 4/27 win over the Heat. The Mavericks are 6-4 in their last 10 games with Williams, including 5/9 win over OKC and 5/1 win over the Clippers. The Celtics are 34-21 all time in game Williams calls and the Mavs are 24-30 all time with Williams. Williams has faced criticism for bad calls during several games this season which added to a series of high-profile mistakes.

    And make sure to check out CelticsBlog’s Playback stream for a live conversation about the game. To participate, just create a free account, connect your LP sub if you have it, and join our community.

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  • Sam Hauser has been an underrated contributor throughout the NBA Finals
    Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

    Hauser has hit 5 of 11 three-pointers in the first three games of the NBA Finals while playing solid all-around basketball.

    DALLAS — Sam Hauser’s box score numbers won’t jump out at you. But the 26-year-old sharpshooter — who has famously never shot below 40% from three in a single basketball season — has been critical en route to the Celtics taking a 3-0 NBA Finals lead.

    His impact was the loudest in Game 3, when he helped the Celtics weather an early Mavericks’ storm by hitting 3 first-half triples — and finishing the night with 9 points (3-4 FG) and 3 rebounds. The Celtics fell behind by 13 points in their first quarter at the American Airlines Center, but Hauser’s poise to sink two threes in the opening period helped them crawl back into the game and ultimately regain control to take a commanding series lead.

    Hauser hasn’t had an eye-popping offensive playoff run — nine points was the most he’s scored since the first round of the postseason against Miami, when he exploded for 17 points in the series-clinching Game 5. He shot just 7% from three (hitting 1 of 14 attempts) in the Eastern Conference Finals, dealing with uncharacteristic shooting woes that compelled him to rewatch his YouTube highlights in order to regain some confidence.

    “Just to know I’m still the same guy — it’s just shots aren’t going in sometimes.”

    But, even through those struggles, he continued to play double-digit minutes and served as one of the most reliable players off the bench, spacing the floor and helping open up lanes for teammates like Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday to capitalize on.

    “If they’re hugged on me in the corner, it creates a driving lane for someone else and creates an advantage that way,” Hauser said.

    In the Finals, he’s been particularly effective, not just offensively but also doing all the little things, whether that’s getting stops on Luka Doncic or grabbing contested rebounds. He’s now shooting 5-11 from downtown in the series, fulfilling his role as best he can.

    “Some shots went in, that was the only difference,” Hauser said of his Game 3 performance. “I thought I’d been playing pretty well throughout the series. Just trying to provide an energy spark.”

    In Game 1, he was also instrumental in the early goings, scoring 8 points on 3-4 shooting, hitting both of his threes, and grabbing 4 rebounds. He managed to hold his own defensively, even when Doncic and Kyrie Irving hunted him on mismatches. And while he struggled with his shot in Game 2 (going 0-5 from three), the defensive intensity remained.

    “He’s been able to stay level-headed through the ups and downs, and it’s been great to see,” Payton Pritchard said on Thursday. “He’s hit really big shots, and he hit three last night [in Game 3]. But, it’s just his work. He works on his shot all the time.”

    Hauser said this morning that the chance to win an NBA championship was something he dreamed of as a kid.

    “I feel like everybody in this profession probably does at some point or another,” he said. “We get to live it tonight.”

    For the season, Hauser averaged 9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 22 minutes — all career-highs. He shot 42.4% from three on the season, second-highest on the team. Now, he’s hitting those shots on the biggest stage in basketball.

    The enormity of that accomplishment — particularly for a player who went undrafted — is one he’s well-aware of.

    “In the moment, you’re so locked in on the game that you’re not really thinking about it,” Hauser said.

    But after Game 3, he took the opportunity to reflect on the significance of that accomplishment.

    “You just kind of reflect on the game, like ‘whoa, I just a couple of shots in the NBA Finals. That’s pretty cool.’”

  • Celtics haven’t won a championship yet, and they refuse to act like it’s inevitable
    Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

    Joe Mazzulla has forced this Celtics team to focus on nothing but the present, and it’s the very reason why the future is so bright.

    DALLAS — The Boston Celtics haven’t won a championship yet. But they seem to be the only ones who know that.

    Reporters gathered around for what could be the last scrum of the season, and all of the inquiries took on a similar tone. They asked about what it would mean to win, how he avoids complacency in a moment like this, and what the players are feeling.

    “Are you guys all gonna find creative ways to ask the same question?” Mazzulla asked during his practice media availability on Friday morning.

    Mazzulla effectively refused to answer the first of those three questions. He doesn’t care about winning the Finals yet — just the game in front of him.

    “It would mean everything in the world to me to win Game 4,” he said when asked about what it would mean to win a title.

    The second point is one Mazzulla has addressed all year. Not only that, but it’s a concept he’s beat into his team with often colorful quotes and repetitious mantras.

    Winning isn’t allowed to be the expectation in Boston. It needs to be earned and losing breeds experience, not disappointment. So even when asked about the stakes of the situation, Mazzulla purposely ignored the fact that his team was competing to have their names etched in the history books on Friday night.

    “It’s important to this next game on the schedule,” he said.

    Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    As for the third question, Mazzulla never speaks to his players’ emotions. Just their desire to carry out the game plan.

    “I don’t know,” he said when asked if the players are relishing this moment. “I know they relish [winning the] margins.”

    Luckily, Sam Hauser was there to speak for the locker room. And as one would expect, they are revved up and ready to go.

    “I’m excited,” he said. “Could play the game right now.”

    With a championship on the line and one of the greatest seasons in Celtics history hanging in the balance, Boston will take the floor on Friday night knowing what’s at stake.

    It’s impossible not to be anxious. This is everything the entire team has worked for not only this season but their entire lives. “It don’t mean a thing without the ring,” as they say.

    But if the Celtics are going to win the Finals, they’re going to do it their way. And because of the winning, dominant mentality Mazzulla has instilled in them, that means they will treat Game 4 like any other contest. Nothing more. Nothing less.

    That’s what has gotten them to this point, and that is what will lead them to Banner 18.

  • Boston Celtics Daily Links 6/14/24
    Jaylen Brown at Media Availability 6/13/24 | Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

    All the Celtics news you need in one convenient place.

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  • Celtics defense is a constant with NBA championship in sight
    Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    The Celtics have utilized one game plan, guarding one-on-one and switching everything, for most of their three wins over the Mavericks that have them on the doorstep of a title.

    DALLAS — Jaylen Brown chased Luka Dončić beyond mid court. The Mavs star struggled for a moment to cross half court, lost the ball, then regained control of it as he got over the line only to bump into Brown’s chest two more times. He turned and stared at Brown before Dereck Lively II finally pulled him off Dončić with a screen. It was brief relief for Dončić, who was met by Xavier Tillman Sr. and tried, unsuccessfully, to score on him in the post.

    “I made that pledge before the season even started,” Brown said. “I told myself I wanted to maximize my defensive potential, and I wanted to make First Team All-Defense going into the season. That didn’t happen, but to be able to be in these moments and show your defensive versatility, picking guys up, guarding guys in the post, blocking contested threes — it’s been big for us. We got a lot of great defenders on this team, so it’s been a full team effort.”

    Just over one year after several Celtics players and Joe Mazzulla admitted that Boston lost its defensive identity, it became their foundation when their offense became stagnant late in Game 3. Boston held Dallas to 44% shooting, 25 three-point attempts and did so by rarely sending help to the ball handlers. The Celtics switched everything and guarded one-on-one, taking away kick-outs to shooters and allowing Boston to gain a massive three-point advantage. Dallas, who has created only 14 corner three attempts total in the entire series, flatlined with a 102.1 offensive rating that would’ve ranked last in the NBA this year.

    Every player on the Celtics contributed to that end, allowing for a straightforward game plan against an opponent Joe Mazzulla noted before the series will likely require multiple defensive coverages to solve. Those variations came into play when Kristaps Porziņģis returned early in the series with Boston hedging some Dončić pick-and-rolls with help along the perimeter to keep Porziņģis dropped near the rim. But Porziņģis came off the bench, then missed Game 3, mostly forcing Horford to defend 1-5 along the perimeter against Kyrie Irving and Dončić.

    Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

    The Celtics’ defensive numbers against the Mavs stars are eye-opening. They’ve shot 4-for-13 against Payton Pritchard, 5-for-10 against Sam Hauser and a staggering 8-for-29 against Horford. Tillman’s spot minutes on Wednesday saw him hold them to 3-for-6.

    “For me personally, Kyrie was going at me today and you saw it,” Holiday said. “That’s what we play for, but individually, I think everybody takes pride in getting stops and being able to play defense, because we know how hard this game is and how hard it is to win, and then as a team I think we all look out for each other. Sometimes, I might make a play or do something, and guys might ask me, ‘how’d you do that?’ And I try to describe it but my teammates have great instincts on defense, whether to go for the steal, body somebody or whatever it is.”

    Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Brown and Tatum, along with Holiday and Derrick White, have done the heavy lifting at the point of attack against Dallas’ guards. Dončić is shooting 47.3% from the field in the series, but is 32.1% from three and has 15 turnovers alongside only 18 assists, including one in Game 1, the lowest total in a game in three seasons. When Dallas broke off for a 22-2 fourth quarter run in Game 3, Brown felt the team’s defensive intensity increase. Ahead by only three late, the Celtics forced back-to-back stops on Dončić and Irving before Dončić fouled out.

    Irving improved slightly to 40% from the field with a 13-for-28 showing in Game 3, but missed several important looks in point blank position to score, including a signature step-back three over Horford to his right with Dallas trailing by four in the closing moments of the game.

    Irving sat back impressed by Boston’s effort the following day at practice. He’s now lost 13 straight games to the Celtics, and it’s not because of Lucky or necessarily even the Garden crowd. The Celtics have the personnel to throw length and multiple defenders at Irving and Dončić and never let either off the hook on defense — ever.

    It’ll go down as the defining characteristic of this championship team whenever they raise the trophy, and for Irving, Boston’s defense has revealed a lost step, however small, that’s prevented him from getting the extra one necessary to beat those defensive efforts.

    “The frustration is natural because you want to make every shot when you’re in the Finals,” Irving said. “Looking at the first two games, and how some of my shots were a little pressured more than I have had in other series, and the physicality is a little different. These guys on that Boston squad know my game well. They know it well, so they’ve been able to scheme for me for the past few years, so getting over this hump has been something that’s been on my mind for a while watching them, just like everyone’s been watching Boston the entire year be the best team in the league... going against Jrue, Jaylen and JT, and seeing their ability to cover up some of their mistakes, or trust each other to make the right plays on the defensive end has shown me what I have to continue to work on.”

  • The Celtics once again bent without breaking in Game 3
    Jrue Holiday and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics. | Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    The Meltdown Celtics seem to be a thing of the past now.

    As a spectator, it can be difficult at times to completely trust the Boston Celtics when it looks like the sky is falling. Especially after years of watching the team seemingly let opponents come back from the dead.

    The fourth quarter of the Celtics’ Game 3 win over the Dallas Mavericks felt like it was going to be another disappointing chapter in the book of playoff collapses. After ballooning the lead to 21 points with 11:07 left to play, Boston looked like me and the rest of the CelticsBlog staff trying to hoop out there.

    You could’ve blinked twice and the deficit would’ve already been cut to single digits with 8:01 remaining. In the coming minutes, the Mavs continued their push and cut it down to just one point, but that’s as far as they got.

    Did it feel surprising that the Celtics managed to hold off Dallas’ incredible run?

    At the time, yes.

    But, this isn’t something that anyone should’ve been shocked by. This version of the Celtics has been telling us that they’ve got things under control all season long. Time and time again, they’ve issued responses to haymaker runs from opposing teams, including this very Mavericks team.

    Dallas made a final 9-0 push in the closing minutes to try and steal Game 2 in Boston, but a big block from Derrick White, followed by a clutch drive from Jaylen Brown put a stop to it.

    Wednesday turned out to be yet another example of Boston’s poise in the big moments.

    “If you want to be a champion, you have to be resilient in those moments, and we showed that tonight,” said Jayson Tatum.

    Once Dallas had chipped the difference down to just one, Boston ripped off a quick 5-0 run to push the lead back to six. That run was fueled by — you guessed it — resiliency.

    Their first field goal in over three minutes came by the way of a putback layup by Jaylen Brown, who had crashed the offensive glass on a Tatum miss.

    Immediately after, Jrue Holiday picked up Kyrie Irving in the backcourt to pressure the ball. His hounding defense caused PJ Washington to rush over and set an illegal screen, resulting in a turnover and quick stop for the Celtics.

    Holiday then threw one of the prettiest passes you’ll see to find Derrick White for an open three, which put Boston up by six.

    Despite the unreal wave of momentum that the Cs were battling at the time, they remained poised in the biggest stretch of the night and controlled the things that they could control.

    “I think even though that lead dwindled fast, we found ways and moments to overcome it,” Brown told reporters. “In that fourth quarter I was proud of, we made some big-time plays. Jrue Holiday, D-White, JT was physical, aggressive. Got to the paint, and we were able to finish it.”

    Boston has continuously found was to bend without breaking, and it may have all-but captured their 18th NBA championship in Game 3.

  • ‘Life is about roller coasters’: Celtics have (almost) conquered the ride
    Jayson Tatum and his son, Deuce, share a moment.

    It’s been quite a journey. The end is almost here.

    Jayson Tatum typically takes his time before speaking to reporters after games.

    Following the Celtics’ Game 3 triumph over the Mavericks on Wednesday, Tatum arrived at the podium almost immediately still wearing his jersey. He spoke with conviction and purpose, clearly invigorated but not complacent.

    With a potential championship and Father’s Day both approaching, a reporter asked Tatum what he’ll tell his son, Deuce, about facing obstacles and overcoming them.

    “That’s a great question,” Tatum said. “I would say that life is about roller coasters, right? The game of basketball, and life, and whatever your occupation is, right, we all go through ups and downs. In the toughest moments, that’s when your true character comes out.”

    Tatum said he tries to be the same person all the time, through the best of times and worst of times.

    “That’s what I’m going to try to instill in him,” Tatum said.

    Tatum summarized this Celtics journey succinctly and profoundly. Life really is a rollercoaster. Sometimes we have this foolish notion that every single break should go our way. It’s human nature, but in reality, that’s not how it’s supposed to go.

    Honestly, it’s better that way. If your dating life is glorious in middle school — first of all, credit to you — but what about the climb? If you get all As and get into your dream school, again, very impressive, but where’s the C in there to keep you grounded? If you enter the league and immediately win it all, respect, but it almost feels too easy.

    When they first came in the league, Tatum and Jaylen Brown were tall for their age, but they still weren’t tall enough to ride the ride. Don’t let the name fool you...You can’t just walk on The Smiler and expect to come out unscathed.

    Once they were able to ride, after many trial runs and much inevitable doom, they finally made it to the Finals. They almost made it through, but that final loop sent them spiraling and they puked off the side of the car (sorry for the unpleasant visual).

    This ride isn’t for everyone. You’re going to get dizzy. You might scream a lot. You may even wet your pants. But the more times you ride the ride, the more equipped you are to do so to completion without a snafu.

    Then came the growth, the maturity, and the willingness to accept that they weren’t initially ready. Together, they grew up, right before our eyes, and didn’t let their past failures prevent them from riding one more time.

    This time, they didn’t eat that corndog right before hopping onto The Smiler. They brought a couple new friends along with them to ease the pain. They entered confident, and eager, but understood that nothing was guaranteed.

    This time, they rode that dang ride with their hands in the air and smiles spread across their faces. No dizziness. No wetting of the pants. No puking. They’ve made it through the twists and turns, and now, they’ve entered the home stretch.

    The ultimate goal is within reach, but they know they can’t let that distract them from coming out with the right mind-set.

    “We’re not necessarily saying ‘One more’, but instead, ‘However long it takes,’” Tatum told reporters. “No one is relaxed. No one is satisfied. We gotta keep fighting.”

    That’s all they’ve done since they arrived in Boston, and that’s what they’ll do moving forward.

    As Deuce continues to mature, and understand the value of overcoming adversity, he has an outstanding role model to turn to in his father. Poise, passion and perseverance get you a long way in life, and Tatum and the Celtics are the ultimate example.

  • Three things you might have missed from Celtics-Mavericks NBA Finals Game 3
    Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

    Jrue Holiday’s pass, Joe Mazzulla’s UFC examples, and Luka Doncic ironically mocking Sam Hauser.

    The Boston Celtics took a 3-0 series lead in the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, taking down the Dallas Mavericks by a score of 106-99. Despite being without Kristaps Porzingis, the Celtics pulled through, slowing down Luka Doncic and blowing by him on the other end.

    Here are three things you might have missed in Game 3.

    1. Jrue Holiday makes the pass of the night

    At this point in the game, the Celtics were reeling. The Mavs had finally found a way to cut into Boston’s lead, and the Celtics’ offense turned to dust.

    Then, Jrue Holiday drove to the rim, drew multiple defenders, and made an over-the-head pass to Derrick White at the three-point line. And White sunk it, as he does.

    2. Joe Mazzulla’s UFC examples

    Throughout the course of the season, Joe Mazzulla has emphasized the importance of staying focused. His general idea is that the closer a team or person is to winning, the closer they are to effectively taking their eyes off the prize and losing.

    Mazzulla is a big UFC fan, so he sometimes shows his players clips of fights that pertain to this ideology. Before Game 3, he shared some hilarious examples.

    “There’s a lot of them,” Mazzulla said. “Usually every single fight. I think it was (UFC) 302, guy gets hits in the nuts, complains to the ref, complains to the referee, gets distracted, he gets choked out the next round. He lost his focus. You see (Alex) Pereira, gets hits in the nuts, looks at the referee, knocks the guy out five seconds later.

    “So it’s the approach to what happens to you and how you handle it. But the closer you think you are to beating someone is the closer you are to getting your ass kicked. Tonight I expect the best out of Dallas, and we got to get ready for a fight.

    3. Luka Doncic mocks Sam Hauser

    Early in the game, Doncic scored a bucket on Hauser.

    As he was running back on defense, the jumbotron caught him motioning to the Celtics bench. He smirked, pointed at Hauser, looked at Boston’s bench, and motioned as if to say, “You’re going to let this guy guard me?”

    Well, considering Doncic shot 6-for-18 in the final three quarters of the game, it’s safe to say Boston’s trust in Hauser, and the rest of their team, paid off.


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