After a blowout loss in Game 1, and a closer loss in Game 2, the Mavericks needed to play with a sense of desperation to avoid the undefeated 3-0 series deficit. They got things going quickly, with Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic leading a quick 9-2 run before eventually pushing their lead to to as much as 13 points in the first quarter.

The Celtics, who have come back from big deficits in the playoffs already, fired back though. They went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead in the first quarter, and the second quarter was the kind of ugly type of basketball that saw the Celtics take the lead a couple of times before the Mavericks eventually squeaked by to lead 51-50 at the half.

The story of the first half was the resurgence of two stars who had struggled with their shot. Kyrie Irving 20 points at halftime while shooting 8 of 14 overall and 4 of 5 from three before ending with 35 points. On the other side, Jayson Tatum also had 20 points after shooting 7 of 15 after two quarters and 31 points for the game.

The Celtics needed the big first half from Tatum, because the rest of the starters combined for just 21 points. The Mavericks, on the other hand, were glad to see Irving finally get hot to help Luka Doncic, who had 17 points of his own in the first half.

Boston were the ones to take the initiative in the third quarter, and they outscored the Mavericks 35-19 to take a 15-point lead into the final stanza. Jaylen Brown woke up in the period, scoring 24 second half points while also creating a lot of opportunities for his teammates with his playmaking as he finished the game with 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Doncic and Irving only had a combined 13 points in the third quarter, which became a big problem because none of their teammates were able to get it going. At the end of the third quarter, other Mavericks players only had 19 points combined for the game.

The Celtics pushed their lead to as many as 21 points early in the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks found a 22-2 run to cut that to just one  point with a little over three minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, Doncic fouled out during that run as well, the first time he’d fouled out of a playoff game, and the Celtics finally rallied. Irving managed to cut the lead to just two points again with 1:20 left on he clock, but that’s the closest Dallas would get in the closing moments.

Boston now have an as-yet undefeated 3-0 series lead in the series, and will look to close things out in Game 4. While it’s a heartbreaking loss for the Mavericks, the clear gulf in depth between the two teams was once again what became apparent, especially when Doncic fouled out.