“Man, Kyrie was great tonight,” Jaylen Brown told Lisa Salters post-game. Irving finally found his groove after struggling in the series’ first two games, dropping 35 points. But, according to Brown, there was a caveat.

“It just wasn’t enough.”

The Boston Celtics went on the road for the first time in the Finals, took the Mavericks’ best punch as they fell behind by 13 in the first quarter and came out victorious. All the coverage leading up to the series centered around Irving and Luka Doncic.

Yet, Jayson Tatum and Brown continue to be the straw that stirs the drink, and that is why Boston finds itself one win away from their first title in 16 years. Wednesday night, the Celtic duo became the first pair in NBA history with 30+ points, 6+ rebounds, and 5+ assists at age 27 or younger. It was a Tatum tornado in the first half as the first-team All-NBA player scored 20 points, the most on his team, before a Brown barrage came through in the second, as the SG knocked down 24 points in the final two quarters. However, their scoring does not describe the complete impact. They combined for double-digit assists for the second game in a row, and their defensive intensity held Jason Kidd’s club under 100 for the third time.

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For Dallas, while Irving held up his end of the bargain, Doncic sat on the bench. The Slovenian fouled out with four minutes left in the fourth quarter and contributed just ten points in the second half. The Mavs made an incredible 20-2 run after falling behind 21 in the fourth, but two quick whistles on Doncic ended his night early and possibly the Mavericks season.

With their backs against the wall, Dallas came out swinging. An early 9-2 turned into a 22-9 advantage after six minutes as the American Airlines Center roared to life. Maybe a year ago, or two years ago, the Celtics wilted in these situations.

But not this year.

Tatum quieted the crowd with his first three of the game, a welcome sight after his shooting struggles during the playoffs. An 11-0 run over two minutes brought the Celtics back in the fight, and at the end of one, Boston trailed by just one 31-30, even as Dallas shot 54% from the floor.

The second quarter turned into a slug-fest as the teams combined for eight points in six minutes before an Irving three put Dallas back up one 36-35. Back-to-back triples from the Mavs PG two minutes later extended his team’s advantage to a two-possession lead for the first time in the quarter, but Boston responded to close the second and went down 51-50 heading into the break. After Dallas’ offensive explosion in the first and defensive intensity in the second, the Celtics were lucky to be within reach, let alone down one.

They did not waste the opportunity.

The Celtics vanquished the Dallas D to start the second half, going 6-6 from the field, with another Tatum triple as the exclamation point, forcing Kidd to call timeout down five. The stoppage in play did little to slow the momentum, and five straight points gave the Celtics their first double-digit lead of the game, 71-61. The Mavs responded with two consecutive baskets, but they could not keep up. Joe Mazzula’s men ended the third on a 14-5 run, taking a commanding 85-70 scoreline into the fourth. For most of the series, the Celtics missed their back-breaking three-point shooting, but five long balls in the third broke their skid from behind the arc.

The final frame started like the end of the third, and two straight triples by Brown and Derrick White turned game three into a blowout, 91-70. With the game seemingly out of reach, the Celtics let up for the next few minutes, and Dallas kept the door ajar.

Ten straight points from the Mavs caused Mazzula to call timeout as the deficit dwindled to 11. Even with a break, the Celtic offense broke down as Dallas stormed back. They ripped off another 10-2 sprint and pulled within three with six minutes to go as Boston’s lead evaporated.

Instead of letting the game get away, the Celtics returned to their calling card: defense.

Back-to-back stops calmed the game down before Doncic’s clumsiness with five fouls derailed the comeback attempt. Irving brought the game within one as Boston scored two points over eight minutes; he could not run the show alone. Five straight points by the Celtics, most notably a White three, put Boston back up by six with 2:48 to play.

Eighty seconds later, Dereck Lively’s dunk from an Irving assist made it a one-possession game, but Brown had the answer. He got to his midrange spot and drained a 20-foot jump shot with a minute remaining, putting the contest out of reach. The Celtics drilled their free throws and escaped Dallas with a 106-99 win and find themselves one win away from an NBA title.

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