Welcome To Game 3 Of The NBA Finals, Where The Entire Celtics Season Has Been Building Towards This Moment

Brian Babineau. Getty Images.

Over my nearly 10 years (holy shit) blogging here on the best website on the internet, I imagine you've heard me refer to a big Celtics game as 

"The biggest Celts game of my life"

more than a few times and I admit, that random January game against the Hornets was probably not as big as I felt it was in the moment, but that's how my brain works. It's not normal, it's definitely a little embarrassing, I understand that. But as someone who believes in the importance and significance of every dribble from Summer League through June, that's just how I'm wired. 

Well, this time I really mean it. 

Welcome to Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Where it's not just the biggest game of my life, I would argue it is the biggest game to date of the entire Tatum/Brown era. 

We all know the stakes. Up 2-0, undefeated (6-0) on the road so far in these playoffs, I don't think it's crazy to suggest that tonight's game is essentially for the NBA title. You find a way to go up 3-0, I feel pretty confident in this Celts team not being the first team in NBA history to blow a 3-0 lead. Drop it and have this series move to 2-1 and the Mavs have life. Then, you're one poor shooting night away from potentially going back to Boston 2-2 and anything can happen.

Tonight is the Celtics' opportunity to go for the kill. Something they've been great at all year long and especially so far in this postseason run, this is the moment the entire season has been for. You spend 8 months working for the ability to control your own destiny on the way to an NBA title, and that's the opportunity that has presented itself tonight. 

Just last series, we saw the Celts in a similar position. Up 2-0 on the Pacers, they went into Indy and despite falling down by a billion, they found a way to win. They were resilient. They were calm. They played and won as a team.

In the previous series, the Celts went into CLE after dropping Game 2, where all the pressure in the world was on them to bounce back. The narratives were crazy, this was "the same old Celtics" blah blah blah. They won that game and never lost again in the series.

In the first round, the Celts went into MIA after dropping Game 2, and it was the same shit. The Heat were their boogeyman, same old Celtics blah blah blah. They won that game by 20 and never lost again in the series.

As we enter Game 3 of these Finals, this is the spot where many assume the Mavs are going to punch back. Their stars will play better, their role players will play better, their crowd will make a difference, all things that are entirely possible. Assuming a team worthy of making the Finals will play poorly for 4 straight games isn't realistic, so I do expect the Mavs' best punch tonight. They know what's on the line if they don't, and I expect them to play that way.

The thing is, the Celtics have been getting everyone's best punch since October. This type of pressure is not new to them. Winning huge playoff games on the road is not new to them, something that dates all the way back to Tatum's rookie season. 


In such a huge moment, with the final goal so close, for the Celtics to win this game they must remember what got them in this position in the first place. With Porzingis' status up in the air and the fact that even if he does play he'll most likely be limited, tonight boils down to one very important thing.

Play Celtics basketball.

What does this mean? It means playing hard. It means playing smart. It means understanding that playing as a collective unit is greater than trying to win the game by yourself. It's being selfless and being willing to do whatever it takes at any given moment to win. It's wanting for your teammate more than you want for yourself. 

While the basketball world tries to make this a Player X vs Player Y game, what has made the Celtics the best team in basketball since October and one win away from effectively ending the Finals is that they are a team of "we" and not "me". 

In previous runs, we've seen the Celts fall short in this sort of spot because they strayed away from that concept. It's certainly not easy to do, and that's why those who end up winning the title are usually the ones who embrace this approach. 

All the hard work, all the sacrifice, it all comes down to this moment, this opportunity.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go puke my guts out.