NBA Hoops

Tatum and Brown combine for 61 points, Celtics beat Cavaliers 106-93 in Game 3

Tatum and Brown combine for 61 points, Celtics beat Cavaliers 106-93 in Game 3

Before Game 3’s tip-off, Jrue Holiday said at shootaround, “we’ve just got to bring up the intensity. More attention to detail, especially how guys like to drive and get to the basket and plays they like to make. Just lock in a little more.”

Jaylen Brown echoed those sentiments. “Gotta be more aggressive, more ball pressure, and just overall more effort,” Brown said.

Two days after losing a demoralizing Game 2 at TD Garden on Thursday, the Celtics quieted the skeptics by beating the Cavaliers wire-to-wire 106-93 in Game 3.

Game 3 opened with an ultra-aggressive Jayson Tatum scoring in transition, off strong drives, from behind the arc. He had twelve points in the first quarter (5-of-9 from the field, 2-of-4 from 3) and took nearly half of Boston’s shots.

The first half also welcomed a more assertive Holiday. Holiday has only scored more than ten points in two playoff games so far; he had 15 with three assists at halftime.

Brown had an efficient 13, hitting six of his first seven shots.

With Cleveland trying to limit threes with higher pick up points on Boston’s perimeter players, the Celtics took advantage driving the ball and running in transition. Through the first 24 minutes, they outscored the Cavaliers in the paint 30-18, hitting 55% from the field.

The Celtics then opened the second half on 14-0 run, pushing the lead to 23. It was a definitive, disciplined stretch with Tatum and Brown attacking the rim and paint touches generating open 3s for Derrick White and Holiday. Cleveland answered with a 9-0 run, but after the third, Boston stretched the halftime lead from 9 to 15.

The final frame started with six straight points from the Cavaliers: A Darius Garland drive and two easy buckets for Evan Mobley in transition and off an offensive rebound. Boston and Cleveland traded buckets through a slog of a final quarter, including two clutch threes from White and Payton Pritchard. With fans clamoring for a gritty win in this postseason, Gang Green dug deep. The Jays scored the final 10 of the Celtics 12 points and Boston held Cleveland to fewer than 25 points in the second, third, and fourth quarter.

Tatum finished the game with a team-high 33 points, Brown had 28, and White and Holiday combined for 30 points on 6-of-12 shooting from 3.

The second round series continues its every-other-day grind with Game 4 scheduled to start at 7 pm EST Monday night.

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