Boston Celtics

Celtics' victory in Dallas puts Boston on verge of championship

NBC Universal, Inc.

Jayson Tatum scored 31 points, Jaylen Brown had 30 and the Boston Celtics held off a furious Dallas rally to reach the brink of a record 18th championship with a 106-99 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday night for a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals.

Brown finished with eight rebounds and eight assists as the Celtics extended their franchise record with a 10th consecutive playoff victory and moved to 7-0 on the road this postseason. They can win the series and break a tie with the Lakers for most NBA championships with a victory Friday in Dallas.

STAY IN THE KNOW

icon

Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.

icon

Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

Boston also improved to 10-1 in these playoffs without Kristaps Porzingis after the 7-foot-2 Latvian was ruled out about two hours before the game because of a rare tendon injury in his lower left leg sustained in Game 2.

The status of Porzingis for the rest of the series appears in doubt, but it might not matter. None of the previous 156 teams to face a 3-0 deficit has rallied to win an NBA playoff series.

The Mavs almost pulled off a crazy comeback to avoid the big hole — 13 years after the only other rally to match it in the NBA Finals sparked Dallas' run to its only title against Miami.

Boston led 91-70 at the end of a 20-5 run early in the fourth quarter before Dallas answered with a 22-2 spurt to get within a point with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

Problem was, Luka Doncic picked up his sixth foul with 4:12 remaining when a challenge was unsuccessful before Kyrie Irving, who scored 35 points, hit a jumper to get Dallas within one.

Tatum and Brown saved the Celtics from there, with some help from Derrick White, who scored 16. Those three combined for the remaining 13 Boston points to get the Celtics within a victory of their first title since 2008, and just the second since 1986.

In a game that seemed over early in the fourth, the score was stuck on 93-90 for more than three minutes. That included when Doncic was called for a blocking foul on a driving Brown.

The Mavs had nothing to lose with the challenge, since it meant trying to save their superstar from disqualification.

Without Doncic, Dallas managed to get within two before Brown hit a pullup jumper with a minute to go. P.J. Washington Jr., Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. each missed a 3-pointer in the final minute as Irving's personal losing streak against his former team reached 13 games.

An energized Dallas crowd was ready for its first finals game in 13 years, with Super Bowl-winning quarterback and Mavs fan Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs frequently getting out of his seat near midcourt.

The Mavs used the needed boost coming off two losses in Boston, taking their biggest lead of the series while running out to a 22-9 lead. Doncic and Irving drove for buckets while also hitting a 3 apiece.

The Celtics answered with a 21-9 finish to the first quarter. Sam Hauser hit two of his first-half 3s — on three attempts — to help wrap up a run that started with four points from Brown and a 3 from Tatum.

Defense dominated the start of the second quarter, Boston holding a 5-2 edge nearly six minutes in before Irving and Tatum traded 3s to start a scoring burst.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us