Tatum, Brown spark Celtics over Warriors for NBA Finals lead

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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 53 points as the Boston Celtics outmuscled the Golden State Warriors 116-100 to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals on Wednesday.

Boston, bullied by the Warriors in a game two blowout in San Francisco on Sunday, bounced back with a dominant physical performance to regain the initiative in the best-of-seven series in a pulsating clash at the Celtics’ TD Garden.

Brown led Boston scoring with 27 points, while Tatum had 26 points and Marcus Smart 24 as the Celtics moved to within two wins of a record 18th NBA crown.

Robert Williams III was the star of a rejuvenated Boston defensive performance, hauling in 10 re-bounds, blocking four shots and pilfering three steals to frustrate the Warriors.

Stephen Curry led Golden State with 31 points while Klay Thompson rediscovered his scoring touch with 25, but it was not enough for Steve Kerr’s side.

Celtics coach Ime Udoka pinpointed the rugged physical displays of Williams and Al Horford as a key to the win.

“We want to try to impose our will and size in this series,” Udoka said. “It’s going to be a back-and-forth battle as far as that, but when we get nights like this from (Williams and Horford), obviously it pays dividends for us.”

Warriors coach Kerr meanwhile said his team had been “plugging holes” throughout.

“They did a good job. They earned the win. They put a lot of pressure on us and felt like we were kind of swimming upstream most of the night,” Kerr said.

It looked as if a Warriors comeback was on the cards after a Curry three-pointer late in the third quarter gave Golden State their first lead since the opening seconds of the game at 83-82.

But Boston refused to buckle and regained the initiative to lead by four points heading into the final quarter.

The Celtics then surged clear with a 9-2 run at the start of the fourth to jump out to an 11-point lead before closing out a deserved victory.—APP

 

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