5 takeaways from the Celtics’ Game 3 victory over Warriors in 2022 NBA Finals

Jayson Tatum scores 26 points in Game 3 to take Helo Boston 2-1 in the 2022 NBA Finals.

Full Coverage: 2022 NBA Finals

BOSTON — The NBA Finals has reached the stage where a team is halfway to the championship. Why does this series seem so tight and uncertain anyway?

Give the Celtics the edge – at least temporarily – who are now 2-1 up against the Warriors after a 16-point win that didn’t come without sweat and fear.

Here are five takeaways from a Game 3 that froze people in TD Garden for a brief moment in Q3:


1. Celtics defeat a formidable opponent – themselves.

Hard to say who tried harder to beat Boston in this Game 3. Was it the Warriors, bolstered by a Splash Brothers reunion, or the Celtics doomed by all their self-inflicted bruises?

The fact that this is even up for debate explains the depth of the Celtics’ neglect and how they were all but destroyed amid an avalanche of turnovers and another head-scratching third quarter. These twin villains have left Boston confused throughout this series and it’s a bit of a surprise that they still have a game.

Their passes are often an adventure; The Celtics often get the habit of driving the lane and then throwing the ball out into the wrong hands. And Marcus Smart – who otherwise played superbly at both ends – was at the center of it all with five turnovers (he’s reached as many as 10 in the last two games). They also missed seven free throws. As for the third quarter, the Warriors owned them all: 38-24 in Game 1, 35-14 in Game 2, and then a bigger eight-point swing on Wednesday in a game they’d never controlled before.

Celtics control the pace and overtake Warriors in Game 3.

But that’s the bad part for Boston. Now for the good: The resilience of this Celtics squad showed itself again, as has been the case since late January when their season was going well. Boston’s defense kept the Warriors dry in the fourth quarter, allowing just nine points before the Subs checked in with a few minutes left. Jayson Tatum fired the warning shot with a strong finish. After a frustrating two-point performance in Game 2, Smart was a much-needed third source of points on Wednesday (24). And Jaylen Brown, who had 17 of his team’s 33 points in the first quarter, regained his bounce.

Just when it looked like another Warriors rally was in the works in the second half, Boston refused to back down — so much for championship inexperience. The Celtics are yet to lose a straight game this postseason.

“Another setback from us,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “We did this after losses.”


2. Draymond raises the temperature, Celtics hit it.

That’s an unofficial research conclusion based solely on the level of colorful Game 3 language from the seats at TD Garden, but Draymond Green has now replaced the New York Yankees on the short list of people the Boston sports fan finds repugnant. And it’s baseball season.

More important is how the Celtics fought his fire with a blowtorch, putting on their most physical show of the series yet and, just for fun, hurling Draymond’s trash talk right back at him; Grant Williams served as a volunteer scream leader.

Distractions off the pitch affecting Draymond Green?

Boston brought a size advantage to that series and eventually flexed that muscle, with 52 points in the paint and bodies on the floor in pivotal moments in the fourth quarter. The sequence that sealed the win was unmistakably Boston Blue Collar: Smart, Al Horford and Robert Williams dived together while chasing a loose ball with four minutes remaining. After a brief wrestling match with Steph Curry, Smart got away with the prize, absorbing the foul and letting out a yell. Horford then threw a lob to Williams for a dunk and a 14-point lead, and that was a wrap.

As for Draymond, he’s been somewhat quiet: he never affected the game, easily his weakest performance of the series. With four rebounds and three misses in four attempts, he’d caught the crowd’s attention for all the wrong reasons. According to his assessment, he played “like crap. I was soft.”

As for the crowd that’s on his case? Warriors coach Steve Kerr sarcastically described the chants as “classy, ​​very classy”. This probably indicates that the atmosphere for Game 4 on Friday will be the same (9 ET, ABC). Will Green be a different player? This is a more important issue for the warriors.


3. Wasted Klay.

Oh look: Klay Thompson found his groove. The Warriors knew it was only a matter of time and the Celtics knew it was coming too, but when?

Well, the wait is over, and while there’s no guarantee that Thompson’s 25 breakout points will finally turn the corner in Game 3, it’s the most encouraging sign for the Warriors going into Game 4. Thompson hasn’t put his stamp on the series yet, and his 4-for-19 Game 2 duds was particularly troubling. The warriors were never stressed; In fact, they fed Thompson, who never goes empty handed, and he responded by shooting 5-on-13 from deep after only making four 3s combined in the previous two games. That put Boston’s defenses on high alert.

Klay Thompson finally got on the line in the 2022 NBA Finals with a 25-point performance in Game 3.

It was beautiful how Thompson and Curry made it feel like 2018 again for the first time in this Finals, taking turns taking shots and giving the Warriors a chance to win. For a while, they seemed to startle and worry Boston.

The trick for Thompson now is to keep that flow and that feeling and show it for a second game in a row. The last time he scored 20+ points in a row was the first round against Denver. That was at the end of April. it’s june And the Celtics, a top defensive team, will be expecting their best.


4. One-legged Time Lord is good enough.

Celtics center Robert Williams III used a good leg to give the Celtics a one-game lead in the series. If this were February and the Celtics were playing the Kings, for example, it would be unlikely that Williams would even be on the floor.

“It was tough,” he admitted.

But he was the X factor on Wednesday, using his size, hops and appetite for rim protection to make a big difference in Game 3 from a physical and strength standpoint. This was notable in that Williams pulled a bad knee into that series and continued to score as the Finals began. He was limited to 26 minutes Wednesday but grabbed 10 rebounds – helping the Celtics get 16 on the offensive glass – and delivered four rebounding blocks.

Even in that limited time, Williams was the most important, if not the best, big man all night. His intimidation in the paint proved particularly important as the score tightened and the Celtics turned to defense in an attempt to save.

As for the discomfort? “It’s definitely worth it,” he said. If the Celtics win another pair of games, Williams won’t feel a thing.


5. On a Friday, warriors stumble out of a sticky situation.

The last time the Warriors trailed 3-1 in the Finals was in 2019, but there was one major caveat: Kevin Durant only had one cameo against the Raptors. It didn’t end well for Golden State; Thompson injured his knee in Game 6 and the three-peat try was choked out while Durant chose to have a nationwide recovery in Brooklyn.

The Warriors are healthy for Game 4 on Friday but face a hardened Boston side. Also, they gave up 68 first-half points to Boston on Wednesday and need to put together a plan to neutralize the Celtics’ greatness, which was literally and figuratively big in Game 3.

Isiah Thomas believes Golden State is “in big trouble” in Game 4 on Friday.

Still: Curry stayed hot until Horford fell on his leg, causing the Warriors guard to wince and yelp. Curry walked with a slight limp after the game but said he will be ready for Friday. Even as the Celtics chased him and tried to force him to pass the ball, he had 31 points and was eventually assisted by Thompson.

The Warriors played their worst game and still led in the second half. In the third minute, it took them just nine minutes to control the game.

There is one team that is ahead in this series, but this series seems close anyway, almost even. What happens in one game doesn’t necessarily carry over to the next. That makes Friday almost unpredictable. For now, Steph Curry has been the only constant in the Finals, so the Warriors have that – and only that – in their favor.

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can email him here, his archive can be found here and keep following him Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.

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