The Golden State Warriors trail the NBA Finals 2-1 after they fell 116-100 in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. Boston dominated the first half and fourth quarter and withstood a Warriors run in the third quarter that gave Golden State a chance to pull off the upset. Instead, the Celtics held on to home-court advantage for at least one more game.
The Warriors trailed 33-22 at the end of the first quarter, but it could have easily been much worse. Jaylen Brown got off to a scorching start for the Celtics, shooting 6-for-9 from the field (3-for-4 from three) with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first quarter alone.
The Celtics looked every bit like the younger, longer, and more athletic team in the series. The Dubs tried switching between multiple defensive looks, but offensively, the Warriors were once again unable to convert, with Steph Curry held to just seven first-quarter points.
Boston’s lead peaked at 17 in the second quarter, but then the Warriors successfully sped up Boston, and took advantage of their turnovers as Klay Thompson caught fire for the first time in the series, helping the Dubs cut the lead to nine.
Curry picked up his third foul with four minutes remaining in the first half, but head coach Steve Kerr stuck by his star. The Warriors cut the lead down to seven before Boston got their wits about them and pulled ahead 68-56 at the half.
Then came the third quarter...
The Warriors entered Game 3 having outscored the Celtics 73-38 in the third quarter. Could Boston break that streak of struggles on their home floor?
The Splash Brothers built on their solid first-half performances in the third quarter while Brown and Tatum were just 3-for-8 from the field. The Warriors quickly pulled within single digits and a four-point play by Curry combined with a flagrant foul on Al Horford allowed Golden State to have a seven-point possession. Shortly after, the Dubs were ahead.
Boston had an answer though, and Kerr made the unusual decision to sit Curry for the final minutes of the third quarter. He was eyeing the fourth. The Dubs had ensured they would have a chance and the Warriors head coach wanted to give Steph some rest before preparing to play him for the entire fourth quarter.
After sloppy play let the Warriors back into the game, Golden State repaid the favor. Marcus Smart made two huge threes and Curry had back-to-back ugly turnovers and seemingly as soon as the Warriors were back in the game, the Celtics were once again ahead by double digits.
The Warriors had their moments in the fourth, but they were unable to get Thompson back involved in their offense, and Celtics star Jayson Tatum finally began taking over the game, overwhelming whichever defender Golden State threw at him.
Brown led the Celtics to their excellent start, scoring the bulk of his 27 points in the first half. Smart, though, had a huge 24-point night of his own, which kept the Warriors from building a big lead during their third-quarter run. Tatum, despite some early struggles, delivered when the Celtics needed it most in the fourth quarter, finishing with 26 points.
Draymond Green easily had his worst performance of the finals, finishing just 1-for-4 from the field while remaining a relative non-factor on either end of the court. The Warriors' defense is built around Green’s elite defensive capabilities, but the Dubs did not get that on Wednesday.
Thompson scored 25 points on 7-for-17 shooting, but showed his first flashes of life in the Finals. It was far from a peak Klay performance, but as Dub Nation searches for positives heading into Game 4, Thompson finally showed something in this series.
Curry carried the Warriors once again, and despite a few ugly turnovers, finished with a game-high 31 points on 12-for-22 shooting from the field. However, a late-game collision during a scrum for a loose ball left him limping and seeming to be dealing with some pain in his ribs as well. If Golden State has any chance in this series, they need Steph. His status over the next couple of days will be the most important story to watch.
Steph Curry's been beat up the last few minutes. Stayed down after he was tangled up on that loose ball. Grabbing at his rib cage after that Marcus Smart bump the last drive. His night's over. Steve Kerr pulled starters. Only one day off before Game 4.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 9, 2022
Each team gets just one day off before returning to action in Game 4. The Celtics will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead before returning to the Bay Area. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 PM Pacific on Friday, June 10th.