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Boston Celtics now one win away from NBA title as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown lead way to Game 3 win in Dallas

Boston Celtics "not relaxing" after taking 3-0 lead in NBA Finals
Boston Celtics "not relaxing" after taking 3-0 lead in NBA Finals 01:01

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics are one win away from an NBA Championship. The Celtics nearly let a 21-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but held on for a 106-99 victory to take a 3-0 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Celtics will go for a sweep Friday night in Dallas. No team has ever overcome a 3-0 series hole in the NBA playoffs.

Boston's two stars shined on Wednesday night, as Jayson Tatum led the way with 31 points while Brown put in 30 of his own -- 24 of which came in the second half. Brown scored nine points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics held off a late surge from Dallas.

Kyrie Irving led the way for the Mavericks with 35 points off 13-for-28 shooting for his best game of the series. Luka Doncic had 27 points for Dallas, but fouled out with 4:12 remaining in the game and the Mavericks trailing by three.

The Mavericks came out like a desperate team to start the game and raced out to 9-2 and 22-9 leads by attacking the basket. But the Celtics answered, going on a 11-0 run midway through the quarter to cut Dallas' lead to 25-23. Tatum hit four of his seven shots in the first quarter, and his dunk off a Doncic miss cut Dallas' lead to 31-30 at the end of the opening frame. 

The Celtics had their first lead of the game in the opening minutes of the second quarter when Al Horford found Brown cutting to the hoop for an easy basket. That came after Payton Pritchard played some excellent defense and forced turnovers by Doncic and Irving on back-to-back Dallas possessions. 

Tatum had 20 points in the first half, but the Mavs got 37 combined points from Doncic and Irving and led 51-50 at the break. Then the Celtics took over out of halftime.

Boston hit its first six shots of the third, and Brown erupted for 15 points in the frame as the Celtics outscored the Mavericks, 35-19. The Celtics shot 13-for-20 in the quarter and hit five of their nine threes. Even backup big man Xavier Tillman drained a three on his first attempt from downtown this postseason. 

Brown capped off the quarter with another angry dunk, putting Boston ahead 85-70 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Celtics' lead grew to 21 early in the fourth quarter, but then the Mavericks came storming back. Dallas went on a 20-2 run, led by eight points from P.J. Washington, and had it down to a 93-90 game with just over five minutes to play.

But Doncic fouled out with 4:12 left in the game on a blocking foul when he tried to stop a Brown drive. Jason Kidd challenged the call on the floor, but was unsuccessful and the Mavs had to play the final minutes without their best player. It was the second foul that Brown had drawn on Doncic in a 26-second span with an aggressive drive against the Mavs guard.

Brown missed a jumper for the Celtics and Irving answered with one of his own to make it a 93-92 game. But Brown made up for that miss by putting in a Tatum miss on Boston's next possession, pushing Boston's lead back to three. 

Washington was called for an illegal screen on Dallas' next turn down the floor, and Jrue Holiday made the most of that Dallas turnover, driving to the hoop and feeding Derrick White for a three to put the Celtics up 98-92 with under three minutes to play.

The Mavericks had it back to a two-point game, but Brown hit a mid-range jumper to give the Celtics a 102-98 lead with a minute to go. Irving front-rimmed a three with 25 seconds thanks to some solid defense from Horford, and White hit two big free throws after being fouled on the rebound to put the Celtics up six with 22 seconds left. 

The Celtics won without Kristaps Porzingis, who was ruled out ahead of the game with a tendon injury. Horford gave the Celtics 37 solid minutes with eight points, five rebounds, and some strong defense.

Boston has now won 10 straight in the postseason for the first time in franchise history. The Celtics are a perfect 7-0 on the road in the playoffs, and will look to complete a Finals sweep and bring home the franchise's 18th NBA title on Friday night.

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