Celtics “Big 3”
Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart became the first trio to record at least 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in a Finals game since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Michael Cooper in Game 6 of the 1984 NBA Finals.
It’s impressive not just because of its rarity, but also because we’ve seen many great Big 3’s over the years, from Duncan/Ginobili/Parker to Wade/James/Bosh to Durant/Curry/Thompson—and none of them accomplished this feat. I’m obviously using the term “Big 3” liberally with respect to the Celtics (hence, the air quotes), but they really delivered in this game. Brown gave them an early lead with 17 first-quarter points; Tatum and Smart closed it out with eight points apiece in the final quarter.
Time Lord’s surgically repaired left knee
Robert Williams III looked spry last night despite being listed as questionable due to soreness in his left knee. He was flying in for dunks, swatting away shots, and outhustling opponents for rebounds. He was all over the place (in a good way) and set the tone early. He finished the game with eight points, ten rebounds, four blocks, three steals, and a game-best plus-21.
He also gave Steve Kerr another headache. The Celtics won Game 1 with small ball. They won Game 3 by going big. The double-big lineup of R. Williams and Al Horford did their damage in the first half, while R. Williams and Grant Williams cleaned up in the fourth. The R. Williams-Horford tandem had a net rating of 58.5 in ten minutes; the Williams-Williams pairing had a 31.1 net rating in 15 minutes together. Boston outrebounded Golden State 47-31 (15-6 on the offensive glass), and the Dubs simply had no answer for the C’s size. This is eerily similar to what we saw in the East Finals, where Miami was just too small.
Steph Curry’s third quarter
If it’s any consolation for the Warriors, they continued their third quarter dominance. Curry is averaging 12.6 points in the third period and is the main catalyst for the Warriors’ 33-point advantage in third quarters through the first three games.
This is easily Curry’s best Finals series, which is counterintuitive considering that he just registered the worst shooting season of his career. He’s averaging 31.3 points while shooting 48.5% from the field and 48.6% from three. He’s been absolutely great.
The fake Matthew Dellavedova quote remains true though, as Steph failed to register a point in the final five minutes with his team behind. That’s perhaps the only blemish for him in this series, but it’s proving to be a conspicuous one.
Dubs in 5
The Warriors lost the game but it felt more than that. Klay Thompson had his best game of the series with 25 points and five threes. The Splash Brothers combined for 56 points and the Celtics still won by 16. The first two games seemed like outliers—Boston hit 9-of-12 three-point attempts in the 4th quarter of Game 1 then had a 14-point third quarter in Game 2. But Game 3 played out how I expected both teams to match up, on average, heading into the Finals. And the Celtics just took the Warriors’ best punch and won by a comfortable margin.
Dubs fans will say that Jordan Poole didn’t play well, Kevon Looney didn’t play well. But that’s the thing, it was unreasonable to expect these guys to have the same impact they had in earlier rounds precisely because the Celtics are a much better team compared to the depleted Nuggets or the overachieving Mavs. That’s why I found the “Dubs in 4 or 5” predictions ridiculous.
I picked the Dubs to win in 7 and I’m not one to flip-flop on predictions, but it does feel that the Celtics are just the better team overall.
Where to start? Green had as many fouls (six) and turnovers (two) as he had field goals (one), rebounds (four) and assists (three).
StatMuse had a field day with him.
Boston fans let him know how they really felt.
At least Green acknowledged that he played like the surprise Amber Heard left on Johnny Depp’s bed.
But all these aside, I just don’t know what more Green can do. It’s easy to say “bring more energy,” but if you don’t have the athleticism to guard Tatum or Brown one-on-one or the size to outrebound Boston’s bigs, what else can he do? He’s not giving you 15 points every night—that 32-point Game 7 in 2016 was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. If that’s what the Dubs need from him, then the series is over.
TD Garden arena crew
The Celtics’ first Finals home game since 2010 started with a bit of controversy. During the pre-game warm-ups, a Warriors assistant and Gary Payton II noticed that the rim seemed too high. When it was brought to the attention of the officials, it turned out that the hoop was, in fact, two inches higher than the 10-foot regulation.
Boston isn’t really known to be a city that prides itself on fair play (Deflategate and the Red Sox’s history of sign-stealing scandals), so it’s hard to believe that this was an innocent oversight. Regardless, for it to happen in what’s supposed to be the pinnacle of professional basketball is not a good look.