BOSTON – Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have often been pitted against each other, treated as rivals instead of teammates. When the Celtics struggled to start the season, speculation swirled that Boston's brass would break them up. Instead, they doubled down and were rewarded with a trip to the Finals. After Wednesday night's 116–100 win over the Warriors, the Celtics moved within two wins of a title—with Tatum and Brown leading the way.
Boston's two top scorers combined for 53 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists in Game 3. Brown got hot early, scoring 17 in the first quarter. In Game 2, Golden State switched Draymond Green onto Brown, who had his second-worst shooting game (27.4%) of the playoffs. But in Game 3, the Celtics successfully forced switches, leaving Brown free to attack Klay Thompson, Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole. Backed by a raucous home crowd of more than 19,000 fans, the Celtics jumped out to a 33–22 first-quarter lead.
In the second quarter it was Tatum's turn. Early on, Golden State's offense started to click. Thompson struck for 10 points in the quarter. After shooting the ball poorly in the first two games—he made 42.9% of his shots in Game 1 and 21.1% of his shots in Game 2—Thompson moved fluidly, rubbing off screens for catch-and-shoot jump shots, spotting up on the wing for drive-and-kicks. But as Thompson warmed up, so did Tatum. He scored eight points in the quarter, chipping in five assists. Marcus Smart added six points. Derrick White came off the bench to score five. At halftime the Celtics held a commanding 68–56 lead.
Third quarters, of course, have plagued Boston in this series, and Game 3 was no different. The Warriors came out of the locker room hot. Steph Curry scored 15 of his 31 points. Thompson racked up another 10. With four minutes to play in the quarter, Golden State, which trailed by as many as 18, seized a one-point lead.
The Celtics, though, rallied.