Saturday, July 13, 2024

Tatum, Brown help Celtics hold off huge Dallas rally for 106-99 win, 3-0 lead in NBA Finals

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Jayson Tatum scored 31, 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.

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.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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