Celtics beat Dallas' comeback and win 106-99 to take a 3-0 lead

By SCHUYLER DIXON (AP Sports Writer)

DALLAS – Jayson Tatum scored 31 points, Jaylen Brown added 30 and the Boston Celtics held off a furious Dallas comeback with a 106-99 victory over the Mavericks on Wednesday night to take a 3-0 lead within the NBA Finals and win a brand new record 18th championship.

Brown had eight rebounds and eight assists because the Celtics prolonged their franchise record with a tenth consecutive playoff win and improved their road record to 7-0 this postseason. With a win in Dallas on Friday, they will win the series and break the tie with the Lakers for many NBA championships.

Boston improved its record in these playoffs to 10-1 even without Kristaps Porzingis, after the 7-foot-1 Latvian was ruled out about two hours before the sport as a consequence of a rare tendon injury in his left lower leg that he sustained in Game 2.

Porzingis' status for the remaining of the series seems uncertain, but that won’t matter. None of the previous 156 teams to face a 3-0 deficit have been capable of rally and win an NBA playoff series.

The Mavs nearly pulled off a crazy comeback to flee the large hole – 13 years after the one comparable comeback within the NBA Finals sparked Dallas' run to its only title against Miami.

Boston led 91-70 at the tip of a 20-5 run to start out the fourth quarter before Dallas responded with a 22-2 spurt to tug inside one point with 3 1/2 minutes left.

The problem was that Luka Doncic picked up his sixth foul with 4:12 minutes left when a tackle was unsuccessful before Kyrie Irving, who scored 35 points, brought Dallas inside one point with a jumper.

Tatum and Brown rescued the Celtics from there, with some help from Derrick White, who scored 16 points. Those three combined for the remaining 13 Boston points, bringing the Celtics inside one win of their first title since 2008 and only their second since 1986.

In a game that appeared to be decided early within the fourth period, the rating hung at 93-90 for greater than three minutes, including when Doncic was cautioned for a blocking foul on a driving Brown.

The Mavs had nothing to lose within the challenge because it was all about saving their superstar from disqualification.

Without Doncic, Dallas got inside two points before Brown hit a pull-up jumper with a minute left. PJ Washington Jr., Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. each missed a 3-pointer in the ultimate minute, meaning Irving's personal losing streak against his former team is now 13 games.

An enthusiastic crowd in Dallas was ready for the primary Finals game in 13 years, with Super Bowl-winning quarterback and Mavs fan Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs continuously rising from his seat near the halfway line.

The Mavs used the momentum they needed after two losses in Boston to construct their largest lead of the series, pulling out to 22-9 with Doncic and Irving scoring baskets and hitting a three-pointer each.

The Celtics responded by ending the primary quarter with a 21-9 lead. Sam Hauser hit two of his three-pointers in the primary half – on three attempts – to assist cap a run that began with 4 points from Brown and a three-pointer from Tatum.

The defense dominated the sport in the beginning of the second quarter. Boston led 5-2 for nearly six minutes before Irving and Tatum began a scoring surge with three-pointers.

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