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NBA Finals: Warriors overwhelmed by Celtics’ athletic physicality in Game 3, and things will only get tougher


The sport was already well in hand when it happened, but there was still injury to be added to insult. Stephen Curry, who had suffered a foot injury just plays earlier, attempted to defend Marcus Smart on a drive with just over two minutes remaining. Smart, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound amalgamation of muscle, grit and determination, delivered a compact elbow to Curry’s midsection, causing the two-time MVP to limp painfully to the bench as he checked out for the ultimate time.

Resignation? Perhaps not. But surely acquiescence … a minimum of for one night.

The Boston Celtics took a 2-1 lead within the NBA finals on Wednesday with a 116-100 Game 3 win, and it is not one which the Golden State Warriors will soon forget. They’ll have loads of time to give it some thought while soaking within the ice tub and getting full-body massages, trying to stop bruising and inflammation from the punishment the Celtics relentlessly delivered throughout the evening.

“Game 2, they brought the warmth to us. For us, that left a nasty taste in our mouth because what we hang our hat on is effort on the defensive end and being a physical team. It definitely woke us up slightly bit,” Smart said after the Game 3 win. ” We just wanted to return out, and if we were going to return out here and play, the final thing after we left that court we didn’t wish to say we weren’t physical enough.”

Boston executed on its clear intention of attending to the rim early and sometimes, outscoring the Warriors 52-26 within the paint for the sport. The Celtics also displayed their force on the offensive glass, edging the Warriors 15-6, which led to a 22-11 advantage in second-chance points.

A trademark Curry heater made things close within the third quarter, however the Celtics quickly answered to place things out of reach within the fourth. Greater than anything, the Celtics just beat the Warriors up. It makes you wonder how Golden State, whose key players are of their 30s, will delay if the series continues against a mostly young, athletic Celtics team that, as Smart said, takes pride in its physicality.

Jayson Tatum did not have the very best shooting night on Wednesday, but once Curry got into foul trouble, he used his size and strength advantage to get to the basket with little to no resistance.

Curry wasn’t the just one to take the brunt of the Celtics’ brawn. Al Horford nearly sent Otto Porter Jr. into the stands with this shoulder bump in the primary quarter.

In considered one of the largest momentum plays of the sport, Jaylen Brown — who was good offensively — got here up with an amazing defensive stop on Klay Thompson. First, Brown beat Thompson to the spot and bodied him up, forcing him to vary directions and nearly poking the ball away in the method. Then Brown recovered and used his length to chop off the pass to the corner. Finally, Brown stayed connected as he trailed Thompson on the cut through the lane, then used his athleticism and timing to erase the shot on the rim. Truly remarkable stuff.

In relation to offensive rebounding, sometimes teams can get inflated numbers attributable to long caroms off of 3-pointers or random bounces here or there. However the Celtics earned the majority of their offensive rebounds through determination and strength. Watch here as Horford establishes position, then outworks THREE surrounding Warriors to secure the rebound. He misses the put-back, but it surely’s indicative of the form of effort and physicality the Celtics played with all night.

“I believed the offensive rebounds were only a killer. … That was really the difference in the sport,” Warriors coach Kerr said. “We made several stops, especially within the second half where we had a probability to chop into the lead or make slightly push, and so they got offensive boards. Those were tough.”

Overall, it just appeared like the Warriors were being sent to the ground more in Game 3. Nothing was easy, and the Celtics’ size advantage was never more prevalent. Robert Williams III had 4 blocks and three steals — and it appeared like an entire lot more. His length and leaping ability turned even essentially the most cautious of floaters into kindling for his incendiary rejections.

“We have talked about just being aware of where he’s because especially depending on who he’s guarding, he can type of come out of nowhere,” Curry said of Williams after Game 3. “There is a play early within the fourth, I got by Grant Williams and thought I had daylight to get a shot up, and also you underestimate how athletic [Robert Williams III] was and the way much he could trouble that shot.”

In case you are wondering what play Curry’s referring to, here it’s. Williams doesn’t even come into the frame until the last second, and suddenly the ball is on its technique to the stands on the speed of a Shohei Ohtani fastball.

We knew the Warriors were at a size, length and athleticism drawback heading into the series, however the ramifications were truly apparent in Game 3. Boston found success going small to shut its Game 1 win, after which went to big, bruising lineups down the stretch on Wednesday. The Warriors’ only true answer for size is Kevon Looney, who only played 17 minutes in Game 3 after averaging 23 minutes over the primary two games.

If the Warriors go big, they sacrifice shooting and spacing on the offensive end. In the event that they go small, they run the danger of what happened on Wednesday: getting buried on the glass and dominated within the paint. It is a conundrum, and one which Kerr and his staff can have to contemplate fastidiously because the series progresses.

“That is the game for us. We’ve to think about what’s happening on the ground, what we’d like, do we’d like floor spacing, do we’d like higher rebounding,” Kerr said after the loss. “So we weren’t in a position to find that two-way combination aside from that stretch within the third when Steph really got hot. Couldn’t find the appropriate combination to strike that balance.”

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