The Boston Celtics once again found themselves on the receiving end of a strong third quarter from the Golden State Warriors, but in Game 3 the Celtics proved they could weather the storm to come out with a win, giving them a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
“But we stayed right with it and just locked in and didn’t panic and just continued to play.”
“I think that’s kind of when we turned our season around, when we turned that corner,” Celtics superstar forward Jayson Tatum said. “Earlier in the season, we would have given up leads and lost games like that, whereas now — things happen, right. They’re a great team. They’ve got great players. They’re going to make shots. They’re going to go on runs. But it’s all about how you respond.
“We didn’t hold our head down or anything. We called a timeout, regrouped, figured it out and made winning plays. I was definitely proud of the group for that.”
“For me, it was just be poised,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “Just stay calm. We’ve been here before. They’re a really good team. They’re going to go on runs, but so are we. We just have to bolt down and go on our run.”
The Celtics responded to the Warriors run with a 11-6 run over the final few minutes of the third quarter to retake the lead heading into the fourth, and leaned on Robert Williams III, who was playing with a knee injury, to help them take the Game 3 victory.
“He’s a game-changer,” Horford said of Williams. “Rob is really a game-changer. We’re very fortunate to have a guy like that that impacts winning in the way that he does, because it’s beyond the numbers with him. It’s just all the things that he brings, being in the right places. I’ve been so impressed with Rob, just his ability to just continue to get better and learn.
“He learns. We talk to him, I feel like we can ask a lot of him and he always takes it in, figures it out and it’s better. But his stuff goes beyond the box score, the impact that he has on the game.”
“It’s been rough,” Williams said of playing through the injury. “Throwing everything at it. Usually it’s more sore the day after the game, obviously, adrenaline going down. But we did some different things today, got on the bike a little bit earlier before the game. I benefited from it.”
“I’m constantly talking to Rob, just for the simple fact I know what he’s going through,” Smart said. “He’s hurting, and even though he’s hurt, he still wants to get out and help his team. But at the same time, he’s thinking about his career. Like I just told him, ‘You know your body. You know what you can withstand and what you can’t. But just know, we’ve got a chance to do something special. There’s no guarantees that we’ll be back here. If you can go, we’ll take 20 percent of you better than none of you.’
“Another bounce-back from us,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “My message to the group was, ‘We’ve done this after losses; let’s respond the right way after a win now.'”
The Celtics will look to take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4.