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Boston Celtics made plays when they had to and other takeaways from NBA Finals Game 3

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 -- One more win. That's all the Boston Celtics need to bring home the franchise's 18th championship and first title in 16 years. 

The Celtics are up 3-0 on the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals after a gritty, edge-of-your-seat victory in Dallas on Wednesday night. The Mavericks came out with their hair on fire to start the game, but the Celtics had an answer. And after nearly blowing a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Celtics had more answers when it mattered the most.

The Celtics have now won a ridiculous 10 straight games this postseason. They haven't lost since May 9. They're just the fifth team in NBA history to start a postseason 15-2.

Here are the takeaways from an exciting 106-99 Boston win in Dallas.

Jaylen Brown will be your NBA Finals MVP

Brown scored 30 points for the Celtics in Game 3, with 24 of those points coming in the second half. He exploded for 15 points in the third quarter as Boston outscored Dallas, 35-19, and capped off the quarter with another angry jam.

In a postseason full of angry dunks from Brown, this was perhaps his angriest.

Jayson Tatum's reaction to Brown's dunk was A-plus as well.

Brown came up huge in the fourth quarter too, scoring nine points on 4-for-7 shooting. He also got Luka Doncic to foul out by drawing two fouls on him in a 26-second span, forcing the Mavs superstar to watch the final 4:12 from the bench.

Brown helped the Celtics seal the win with a mid-range jumper to put Boston up by four with 1:01 to play. He's playing smart and aggressive ball and has become a two-way beast. He also had eight assists on Wednesday night.

And in a few days, Brown should have another MVP trophy -- the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP trophy -- for his mantle. That should go nice next to the Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP trophy that he earned a few weeks ago.

Jayson Tatum found his scoring touch

Tatum got his offensive game going with 31 points in Game 3. He only shot 11-for-26 overall and 4-for-13 from three, but he had 20 points in the first half to keep the Celtics within striking distance when the Mavs were trying to pull away. 

The Celtics are now 3-0 in postseason games where Tatum and Brown both score 30 or more points. Boston's star duo didn't outscore Dallas', as Doncic had 27 points (11-for-27) when he fouled out and Kyrie Irving had a game-high 35 points, but they outplayed the two Mavs stars. 

Big Al Horford is giving everything he's got

With Kristaps Porzingis out, the Celtics needed Al to step up. He didn't have a huge game like he did in Game 3 against the Pacers, but he gave the Celtics a lot of strong defense and scored eight points off 3-for-6 shooting with five rebounds, two steals, and a block.

The Boston bench did its part

Joe Mazzulla played just eight players on Wednesday, as only Payton Pritchard, Sam Hauser, and Xavier Tillman came in off the pine. 

Pritchard was 0-for-4 for the night, but he played some solid defense in his 11 minutes. He forced Doncic and Irving to commit turnovers on back to back possessions early in the second quarter. 

Hauser has struggled with his shot all postseason, but he hit his first three three-pointers and finished with nine points to go along with some solid defense. 

Tillman played just 11 minutes, but brought some toughness and gritty defense to the floor. He bodied up on Doncic at points, and was a plus-nine for Boston. He even hit a three in the third quarter. 

Celtics dominated the third quarter in Game 3

The Celtics took control of the game in the third. They hit 65 percent of their shots (13-for-20) and outscored the Mavs 35-19. Boston was 5-for-11 from downtown, and didn't commit a single turnover in the frame. It led to a 15-point lead for the C's heading into the fourth.

The third quarter is usually pretty iffy for the Celtics. But it was their best quarter of the night on Wednesday, and gave them enough of a cushion to have a subpar fourth quarter and still escape with a win.

The fourth quarter wasn't pretty, but the Celtics made plays when they had to

The Celtics built their lead to 21 points early in the fourth -- and then nearly gave it all back when they allowed the Mavs to go on a 22-2 run.

But the C's made plays when they had to down the stretch. Brown had a putback off a Tatum miss. Derrick White (16 points) hit a huge three off a nice feed from Jrue Holiday. Tatum had a huge slam to put Boston up six with just over two minutes to play. 

And when Dallas made it a two-point game again with 1:20 left, Brown knocked down a jumper. White and Tatum then hit their free throws to seal the deal for Boston. 

After nearly blowing it and letting the Mavs back in the game (and potentially the series), the Celtics made the plays they had to make in the most critical moments. That wasn't the case with the Celtics two years ago, but we've been constantly reminded that this is a much, much different team than the one that lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals

"Luka Magic" has gone poof

Doncic is known for his fourth-quarter heroics and he's burned the Celtics a number of times in the past. This series, the Celtics have made "Luka Magic" disappear.

Doncic is just 3-for-15 (and 0-for-4 from three) with eight points in the first quarter this series. The Celtics are completely wearing him down by attacking him on defense, and Doncic hasn't had much left in the final quarter. 

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