NBA Finals: Game 3 Recap and Game 4 Outlook

The Boston Celtics took a commanding 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals on Wednesday night! Can Dallas possibly get back in this thing? Check out our Game 4 outlook!
Will Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown help the Celtics sweep away the Mavs in Game 4?
Will Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown help the Celtics sweep away the Mavs in Game 4?

Boston's quest for their 18th championship is well on its way. The Celtics dominated the third quarter, outscoring Dallas by 16 points, and held off a strong Mavericks fourth-quarter surge to secure a 7-point win.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown shone on both ends of the floor leading the team to victory, but the key storyline of Game 3 was Luka Doncic and his inability to defend.

“Over the Summer Someone Needs to Get to Him”

Brian Windhorst absolutely ripped into Doncic last night - and it was deserving. Luka has been getting attacked possession after possession and he has rarely hunkered down and said, “I’m the best player on the court, let me get a stop.”

To win a championship, your star players have to defend at a high level. Kobe, Jordan, LeBron, Duncan, and even Curry at times made key defensive stops to shift the momentum in the game and series.

All we see is Luka complaining to the officials, foul baiting and failing to get back on defense, and ultimately not giving 100% on that end of the floor. There was a key sequence at the end of the 1st and 2nd quarters I want to highlight:

1st Quarter:

0:35 mark - Luka takes a contested three-pointer over Al Horford and stays on the ground trying to draw a foul for four seconds. Boston has a 5 on 4 that results in a Sam Hauser 3.
0:08 mark - Luka tries to do the contested, step-back three-pointer move again - this time over Tatum at the top of the arc. He falls down for four seconds as Tatum releases to the basket and dunks it with one second remaining in the quarter.

2nd Quarter:

3:29 mark - Luka gets caught sleeping ball watching and fails to close Sam Hauser out, leading to a Celtics 3-pointer.
2:57 mark - Luka’s lazy closeout on Hauser allows for drive-and-kick opportunities. Al Horford shoots a three with a few seconds left on the shot clock. Doncic fails to box out Holiday leading to a putback.

On the defensive end, Doncic was responsible for 10 points at the end of each of the first two quarters. This doesn’t even take into account the lack of help defense and individual perimeter defense that was nonexistent throughout the rest of the ball game.

As Windhorst said, this is unacceptable. Over the summer Jason Kidd, Nico Harrison, or someone inside/outside the organization has to hit Luka down (and plenty of other NBA stars) and discuss how much their complaining is costing them by showing video evidence and +/- stats.

This isn’t a championship team with Luka complaining each possession about a call that can never get changed.

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Brad Stevens and Joe Mazulla

Is there any way the front office can win the MVP award? Stevens made all the correct moves including to ship Marcus Smart out to bring in a more quiet, consistent leader in Jrue Holiday in. Mazulla has taken these pieces and has carefully constructed lineups that give the Mavs (and every other team in the league) major issues.

Hauser and Tillman stepped right in during Game 3 and provided big time plays on both ends of the floor due to KP’s injury. Hauser is +34 this series while Tillman is +32 in six playoff games. Not to mention the major impact of Derrick White and Al Horford - two veterans who deserve a ring for their two-way energy and contributions.

Nothing is by mistake for Boston, who don’t have to dribble at all on the offensive end at their best. The reason Dallas surged back in the 4th quarter was due to the C’s getting away from their ball movement, but other than that Mazulla and the coaching staff has injected something in this Boston team that makes them the best championship team we’ve come across in recent memory.

It took years of question marks and concerns over the guard play, Tatum and Brown’s chemistry, and the bench depth. But as we approach Game 4 of this series, we can now say that Brad Stevens has built one of the more indestructible teams of the decade.

Game 4 Outlook

No team has ever come back from down 0-3 in an NBA series - and this year won’t be that miracle. The Celtics are playing their most consistent basketball of the season and even though Dallas will go on their run in Game 4, I think Luka’s fire has been blown out by himself.

There is no recovery for what occurred in Game 3 and even though Kyrie is playing much better, it’s too little, too late. Unless DJJ and P.J. Washington are scorching hot from beyond the arc and Boston struggles all game to knock down the 3-ball, this trophy is heading back to Boston without a Game 5 on the horizon.

As for the MVP conversation, all four of Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum are in the running. While Jaylen Brown leads in PPG and has had a huge impact on the defensive end (3.3 stocks per game), Tatum has shown why he’s a top 5 player in the NBA with his all-around game. Over 21 PPG, nearly 9 RPG, and over 7 APG, his stat line has Finals MVP written all over it.

The guards are now a long shot to win the award, but with one game of 20+ points for Jrue Holiday, I could see the award heading his way if he makes a massive 2nd-half impact en route to a Celtics victory.

Brown is now -280 on DraftKings to win the award, but Tatum at +250 is our selection as a massive Game 4 could catapult him into the driver's seat.

Game 4 Prediction: Boston 98-93 Dallas

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