When things got tight, the Celtics embraced the greatness of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum

DALLAS — Just when it seemed like the Celtics were about to repeat their past mistakes and collapse on the grandest stage, blowing a 21-point lead against a tired and struggling opponent, they dug deep and not only avoided humiliation but took control once again, thanks to their two superstar players.

The MVP title in these NBA Finals, a series that the Celtics now lead 3-0, doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum displayed no fear in the face of pressure. They brushed off previous mistakes and turnovers, disregarded their team’s history of late-game meltdowns, and instead focused on securing the biggest victory of their careers in Boston.

With just one more win, the Celtics will achieve their decade-long goal of reclaiming basketball glory. Brown and Tatum played crucial roles in their 106-99 triumph at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday night. In the final 3 minutes and 8 seconds, after a discouraging scoring drought, they combined for 8 of Boston’s 13 points, sealing the deal and ensuring victory.
In almost eight minutes, Boston only managed to score 2 points, allowing their 91-70 lead to dwindle down to 93-92 after Kyrie Irving made a jumper. This reminded fans of a similar situation two years ago when the Celtics squandered a 4-point lead against the Warriors, ultimately leading to their defeat without winning another game.

According to Shaughnessy, Game 3 was much more challenging than it should have been, but he believes that the Celtics will inevitably win their 18th championship banner. The Celtics were outplayed by a more experienced team that knew how to excel in crucial moments. Although Boston has gained more experience since that series, they still haven’t completely mastered executing late-game strategies.
“We’ve been in that situation before,” Tatum acknowledged, referring to a previous close game where they had a chance to go up 3-1 but ended up getting tied. “Experience is the best teacher. We learned from our mistakes and from a team that was better than us at the time, who had already been through that and had the mental toughness to overcome it.”

“We have grown from that, there’s no doubt about it. And tonight, we showed it,” Tatum added confidently.

The Celtics have demonstrated their resilience in the playoffs, pulling off close wins against the Cavaliers, Pacers, and now the Mavericks. Brown kickstarted the game-sealing surge by grabbing a rebound off a missed shot by Tatum, giving them a 3-point lead with 3:08 remaining.
In a crucial moment, Derrick White, known for his reliability, extended the lead with a crucial 3-pointer. Sensing an opportunity, Tatum and Brown capitalized on the Mavericks’ vulnerability. Luka Doncic had fouled out, leaving the Mavericks heavily reliant on Kyrie Irving and his underperforming teammates. Tatum further padded the lead with a spectacular spinning move, culminating in a two-handed dunk over Josh Green.

As the game hung in the balance with the Celtics holding a slim 2-point lead, Brown showcased his skills by driving left-handed, coming to a sudden stop, and nailing a midrange jumper right in Tim Hardaway Jr.’s face.

With Kristaps Porzingis sidelined, the Celtics needed their star players to step up offensively, and they did just that, combining for 61 points on 23-for-49 shooting.

Ultimately, the Celtics regained control when it mattered most, leading to their 106-99 victory over the Mavericks in Game 3.
In the second half of the game, Brown was an unstoppable force, contributing 24 out of the Celtics’ total of 56 points. His performance was truly remarkable, highlighted by a powerful dunk and a fierce growl near the Mavericks bench during a late-third quarter run. Throughout the series, the Celtics have consistently outperformed their opponents, and Brown’s outstanding second half display further emphasized their dominance, making it his best game of the series.

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla spoke highly of Brown, praising his growth mindset and relentless desire to improve. According to Mazzulla, Brown fearlessly confronts his weaknesses on the court and willingly exposes himself to various game situations. He actively seeks to learn and grow by seeking guidance from multiple coaches on a daily basis, constantly putting himself in challenging situations on both ends of the court.

Mazzulla believes that Brown’s willingness to be vulnerable and confront discomfort is key to his continuous growth and development as a player.
The Celtics’ path to the NBA Finals has been questioned due to the fact that they faced teams with key players missing in a conference that was plagued by injuries. This series was anticipated to be the ultimate test as they went up against the formidable MVP contender, Doncic, and the talented Irving.

When the Mavericks took an early 13-point lead, many expected the Celtics to falter. However, their experience and their ability to remain calm under pressure allowed them to come out on top, despite a tense fourth quarter. This victory solidifies their status as the strongest team in the NBA, thanks to their exceptional teamwork.
“The saying goes, ‘experience is the best teacher,’ and Brown echoes this sentiment. Over the past six to eight months, we’ve been bombarded with criticisms about the Celtics’ past shortcomings. However, Brown emphasizes that this is a new team, one that has learned from those experiences. And in crucial moments like these, their growth is evident. They stepped up to the challenge and found a way to secure the victory.

On the other side of the court, Doncic and Irving received little assistance from their Dallas supporting cast, despite playing on their home turf. The expected boost from their teammates only came in sporadic bursts. In contrast, the Celtics received contributions from unexpected sources like White, who delivered crucial baskets, and Tillman, who sank a rare 3-pointer. Additionally, Hauser made a couple of key defensive plays to further bolster the Celtics’ performance.”
With their impressive depth, they are overpowering the Mavericks. And in crucial moments, their criticized but essential duo stepped up and delivered. We have witnessed their growth right before our eyes, and after their triumph, they embraced each other at center court, exchanging words and smiles. The end of the journey is near, and they have proven themselves ready for this moment.

“It was just a display of the emotions of the game,” Tatum explained. “Both of us were excited and exhausted. After the game, we weren’t necessarily saying ‘one more’ or anything like that. We were simply acknowledging that we’re willing to do whatever it takes, for however long it takes. Nobody is complacent. Nobody is satisfied. In that moment, I told him I was proud of him, and he said the same. We both agreed that we have to keep fighting and can’t afford to relax.”