The Boston Celtics are on the board in the Eastern Conference Finals as they earned a 117-106 wire-to-wire win over the Miami Heat in Game 3 to make it a 2-1 series.
The C's were paced by Jaylen Brown's 26 points (on 11-for-17 shooting). Jayson Tatum added 25 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists and Kemba Walker finished with 21 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Miami was led by a 27-point, 16-rebound double-double from Bam Adebayo while Tyler Herro added 22 points, four assists and three rebounds off the bench.
The Heat didn't make it easy on the Celtics, cutting the deficit to five late before Boston pulled away.
With all of that in mind, here are some observations from Game 3:
An impassioned response
After dropping Game 2, ESPN's Malika Andrews and Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reported that there was audible arguing in the Celtics locker room, with The Athletic's Shams Charania adding that it was Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown in the centre of the mix.
Emotions were high but cooler heads prevailed, as the team's leaders worked through things later on.
But how would they respond?
In danger of falling into a 3-0 deficit, this Celtics team was on a mission from the opening tip. In many ways, Brown led the charge, finishing with 26 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals, getting to the basket seemingly at will.
Boston now moves to 16-1 this season when Brown scores 25 or more points.
Tatum fills the stat sheet
Jayson Tatum did a little bit of everything in Game 3.
He finished with 25 points (on 9-for-20 shooting). He pulled down a team-high 14 boards. He fished out a team-best eight assists. And he had one huge dunk in the first half, set up by a Jaylen Brown block.
Block ➡️ HAMMER 😤 pic.twitter.com/Z8okXuioZe- Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 20, 2020
For some time, it appeared Tatum would record a triple-double and even though he fell two assists shy, he turned in a pretty impressive night.
It had been 33 long days since he went down in Game 1 of the opening round.
With 5:06 remaining in the first quarter of Game 3, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward checked in for his first action in nearly five weeks. His impact was felt almost immediately, as he dealt a bounce pass to a rolling Daniel Theis, who finished with a dunk.
good to see this guy back on the court 😏 pic.twitter.com/pI7LHhHk92- Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 20, 2020
On the ESPN broadcast, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told Rachel Nichols "He looks good … he knew that first stint was gonna be hard," after Hayward registered four minutes of action in the first frame.
Hayward played through rust and fatigue to make his presence felt, finishing with six points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in just under 30 minutes of action.
The former All-Star truly could swing the series with his play.
Herro's second quarter
Someone should tell Tyler Herro that 20-year-olds aren't supposed to be this impactful this late into the postseason.
Herro, who was recently named to the All-Rookie Second Team, made his presence felt in Game 3, specifically in the second quarter. After scoring just two points at the line in the opening frame, Herro exploded for 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field, including 4-for-5 from 3 in the second.
His buckets weren't easy by any means, either.
T-O-U-G-H 😤@raf_tyler now has 18 Pts. . . pic.twitter.com/O2tlTgccfy- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 20, 2020
The rookie would score just four more points, finishing with 22 points (on 8-for-18 shooting) in 36 minutes off the bench but, man, Heat fans should be very excited about his potential.
The Third Quarter
It's been the Celtics' downfall throughout the series and the postseason.
In Game 3, it was a different story.
Boston was able to not only stay afloat, but it also was able to create more of a cushion. Although they only won the quarter 26-24, the Celtics led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter and, as they won the quarter, took a 16 point advantage into the fourth.
That Boston withstood numerous shots from Miami speaks volumes about this team's resolve.
Heat go cold from 3
After shooting 38.0% from deep in the opening two games of the series, Miami went cold in Game 3.
Thanks largely in part to a stretch in which they missed 15 consecutive 3s, the Heat shot just 12-for-44 (27.3%) from deep in the game, with Herro and Duncan Robinson combining to shoot 8-for-20 (40.0%).
Outside of those two? The team was 4-for-24 (16.7%). You're not gonna win very many shooting like that.
It'll be a much-needed lay off for these two teams, who won't be back in action for a few days as they return to the floor for Game 4 on Thursday, Sept. 24.
See you then.
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