Dallas Mavericks

Celtics survive Mavericks' run in Game 3, win 106-99 for 3-0 lead

Boston can win the championship on Friday in Dallas.

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Banner No. 18 is one win away.

The Boston Celtics on Wednesday took a 3-0 NBA Finals lead after beating the Dallas Mavericks 106-99 in Game 3.

Dallas led by 13 points early in the first with both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving getting it done, but Boston made it a game within minutes. A Jayson Tatum cherry-pick dunk with a second to go made it 31-30 in favor of Dallas, as Tatum capped the quarter with 13 points on 4 of 7 shooting. Doncic led Dallas with 13 points while Irving had nine.

The second half remained close without the same levels of scoring. Dallas remained in the lead at 51-50, with Irving finally coming alive in the series. The 32-year-old logged 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting and made 4 of 5 3-pointers to lead the Mavericks while Doncic supported with 17 points. No other Maverick scored more than five.

A similar story unfolded for Boston. Tatum led the way with 20 points on 7 of 15 shooting, but no one else eclipsed double digits with Kristaps Porzingis ruled out. Sam Hauser was the unlikely hero early on, scoring nine off the bench after going 3 of 3 from beyond the arc.

Despite Dallas' efforts, Boston completely flipped the game in the third, outscoring the Mavericks 35-19 to create an 85-70 advantage. Tatum increased his point total to 27, but it was the Jaylen Brown quarter. Brown ended with 21 points on 8 of 15 shooting (15 points in the third on 6 of 9 shooting), including a ferocious driving dunk.

For Dallas, Irving had 26 points while Doncic had 25, but no one else scored more than six. P.J. Washington hit his first triple of the game, but he only stood at four points. The lack of creators outside of Doncic and Irving continued to bite Dallas against Boston's all-around defense. There were just no answers.

After Boston made it a 21-point game early in the fourth, Dallas responded with an improbable 20-2 run before Doncic fouled out with 4:12 to go.

But Brown, Tatum and White broke the slump and got Boston past the Game 3 finish line.

Tatum finished the game with 31 points, six rebounds and five assists on 11 of 26 shooting and 4 of 13 from deep, while Brown added 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists on 12 of 22 shooting and 2 of 9 from long range.

White was the only other scorer to eclipse double digits (16), with Jrue Holiday having a quite nine points after pouring in 26 in Game 2.

But it's been that type of series for Boston -- and the entire playoffs. Almost everything has been going its way, whether it involves who delivers in key moments and how it overcomes adversity. Even Xavier Tillman, in the eight-man rotation for Porzingis, hit a 3-pointer in the second half. It marked Tillman's first 3-point make of the playoffs.

The Mavericks saw Irving post his best game of the series, but his 35 points on 13 of 28 shooting wasn't enough. Doncic ended with 27 points, six rebounds and six assists on 11 of 27 shooting before fouling out while Washington (12) and Dereck Lively II (11) ended up in double figures after the run in the fourth.

A key difference lied in the 3-point conversions. Boston went 17 of 46 (37%) from beyond the arc, while Dallas continued to underperform, going 9 of 25 (36%). It was better than some of Dallas' recent clips, but teams have to be near-flawless to hand a loss to Boston, let alone four times in a series.

Game 4 in Dallas is set for Friday, June 14 at 8:30 p.m. PT. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in any series, so it's now all or nothing for the Mavericks.

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