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

The game was already well in hand when it happened, but there were still injuries to add to the insult. Stephen Curry, who suffered a foot injury just before, tried to defend Marcus Smart on a drive with just over two minutes left. Smart, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound amalgamation of brawn, grit and determination, delivered a compact elbow to Curry’s midsection that caused the two-time MVP to limp painfully to the bench as he checked. for the last time.

Resignation? Maybe not. But surely acquiescence… at least for one night.

The Boston Celtics took a 2-1 lead in Wednesday’s NBA Finals with a 116-100 victory in Game 3, and it’s not one the Golden State Warriors will soon forget. They’ll have plenty of time to think about it while soaking in the ice bath and getting a full-body massage, trying to prevent bruising and inflammation from the punishment the Celtics have inflicted relentlessly throughout the throughout the evening.

Game 2 they brought us the heat. For us it left a bad taste in our mouths because what we hang our hats on is defensive effort and being a team. It definitely woke us up a bit,” Smart said after the Game 3 win. not to say that we weren’t physical enough.”

Boston executed its clear intention to reach the rim early and often, outscoring the Warriors 52-26 in the paint for the game. The Celtics also showed their strength on the offensive glass, outscoring the Warriors 15-6, which led to a 22-11 advantage in second-chance points.

A Curry-branded radiator brought things closer in the third quarter, but the Celtics responded quickly to put things out of reach in the fourth. More than anything, the Celtics just beat the Warriors. It makes you wonder how Golden State, whose key players are in their 30s, will hold up if the streak continues against a mostly young and athletic Celtics team that, as Smart said, prides itself on its physique.

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

Curry wasn’t the only one bearing the brunt of Celtics muscle. Al Horford nearly sent Otto Porter Jr. into the stands with that shoulder bump in the first quarter.

In one of the most dynamic plays of the game, Jaylen Brown – who was brilliant offensively – pulled off a terrific defensive save on Klay Thompson. First, Brown beat Thompson from the spot and bodied him, forcing him to change direction and nearly knocking the ball away in the process. Then Brown recovered and used his length to cut the pass to the corner. Finally, Brown stayed connected as he followed Thompson on the cut across the lane, then used his athleticism and timing to clear the shot to the edge. Truly remarkable stuff.

When it comes to offensive rebounds, teams can sometimes get inflated numbers due to long caroms out of 3 points or random rebounds here or there. But the Celtics got most of their offensive rebounds through determination and strength. Watch here as Horford establishes his position, then outplays THREE surrounding Warriors to secure the rebound. He misses the return, but that indicates the kind of effort and physicality the Celtics played with all night.

“I thought the offensive rebounds were just a killer. … That was really the difference in the game,” Warriors coach Kerr said. “We made several saves, especially in the second half where we had a chance to take the lead or have a little push, and they had offensive boards. It was tough.”

All in all, it looked like the Warriors were grounded more in Game 3. Nothing was easy and the Celtics’ size advantage has never been more prevalent. Robert Williams III had four blocks and three interceptions – and it looked like a lot more. Its length and leaping ability turned even the most cautious floaters into ablaze for its incendiary releases.

“We talked about where he is because especially depending on who he guards he can kind of come out of nowhere,” Curry said of Williams after Game 3. “There’s a game at the start of the fourth i got by grant williams and i thought i had daylight to take a picture, and you underestimate how much [Robert Williams III] was and how much he could bother that shot.”

In case you were wondering what the game is referring to Curry, here it is. Williams doesn’t even get in the frame until the last second, and suddenly the ball heads for the stands at the speed of a Shohei Ohtani fastball.

We knew the Warriors were at a height, length and athletic disadvantage before the series, but the ramifications were really apparent in Game 3. stretch Wednesday. The Warriors’ only real answer for size is Kevon Looney, who played just 17 minutes in Game 3 after averaging 23 minutes in the first two games.

If the Warriors get big, they sacrifice shooting and spacing on the offensive end. If they get small, they run the risk of what happened Wednesday: being buried on the glass and dominated in the paint. It’s an enigma, and Kerr and his team will have to think it over carefully as the series progresses.

“That’s the game for us. We have to consider what’s on the floor, what do we need, do we need floor spacing, do we need better rebound” , Kerr said after the loss. “So we weren’t able to find that combination back and forth other than that stretch in the third when Steph got really hot. We couldn’t find the right combination to strike that balance.”