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Jayson Tatum Was Unstoppable As The Celtics Punch Back Immediately And Take Game 3

Brian Babineau. Getty Images.

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Now THAT is how you respond after the entire basketball world has spent the last few days playing around with your name. Admittedly losing all these home games is pathetic and needs to stop happening immediately, but tonight wasn't about Game 2. Tonight was about punching back and reclaiming control of this series by handing the Cavs their first home loss of these playoffs. To do that, it would require a much better effort on both ends of the floor from every single player that was going to step onto that court. Lock in defensively, execute offensively, win the margins. That is how you win playoff games on the road, and few teams in the entire NBA have won more road playoff games these last few years than the Boston Celtics. 

When you enter these type of environments, it is paramount that your two best players not only show up, but play a full 48 on both ends of the floor. After Game 2, Jayson Tatum told us not to worry

In Game 3, he showed why

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Jayson Tatum completely controlled this basketball game, and that's even with Donovan Mitchell going nuclear. He played inside/out, he was engaged defensively, he rebounded, and he played with force. It's crazy how people talk about Tatum as if he's not one of the best postseason performers the NBA has ever seen

and all this talk about how he doesn't have that "dawg in him". I dunno, what the hell would you call going on the road and having this type of performance? Guess what too, this is not the first time something like this has happened. 

To win a game like this, someone was going to have to help Tatum, and that's exactly what we saw from Jaylen/Jrue

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Jaylen's shotmaking late was huge, and it's obvious that this was Jrue Holiday's best playoff game as a Celtic, and what a time to have it. He was fantastic, and gave the Celts the exact type of performance I was hoping for in Game 2 when DWhite also couldn't buy a bucket. What Jrue did to set the tone early on both ends of the floor is what helped the Celts get off to a good start, and hopefully now that he's seen the ball go in a few times it'll help moving forward. 

To win Game 3 the Celts were going to have to get back to their basics. Defend like hell, hold another team under 100 points (6th time this postseason), shoot a decent percentage from three (38%), and play with force. The difference in intensity and energy between Games 2 & 3 were like watching two completely different teams. When we get this version of the Celts on both ends, things tend to work out no matter where the game is taking place. When they play tough and with force, few teams can match that level unless there's some sort of unrealistic shooting variance situation.

While winning Game 3 was very important because it guarantees the split, let's not get it twisted. The goal of this road trip is winning both of these games. The pressure now shifts to the Cavs, and the Celts are once again presented with an opportunity to step on some throats and take a big step towards putting a team away. Just like we saw in the MIA series, now is the time to ramp it up even higher. The Cavs are going to play desperate as hell and you need to be ready to match that intensity for a full 48 minutes.

But for now, we temporarily exhale. Needed to get Game 3 and the Celts responded and got it done. Enjoy tonight, we'll dive in tomorrow, and then it's onto Game 4.