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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Once more, the Celtics land significant blows, triumphing over the Mavericks and inching one win closer to the NBA title

In Dallas, Joe Mazzulla, an ardent follower of UFC matches, integrates fight highlights into certain basketball footage showcased during the Boston Celtics’ video sessions. This isn’t for mere amusement or to elicit laughter from the players; rather, it serves a fundamental purpose: instilling a fighters’ mentality within the team.

According to Mazzulla, who is in his second year as a Celtics coach, the essence of a fight lies in its unpredictability. “If you’ve ever been in a fight with someone and you think you’re about to beat ’em, you usually get sucker-punched,” he explains. “The closer you are to beating them up, the closer you are to losing.”

In essence, Mazzulla wants the Celtics to be primed for battle. And indeed, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, they epitomized this readiness.

Two significant bursts of scoring—23-8 in the first half and 20-5 in the second—served as the decisive blows in this game, potentially shaping the outcome of the series. Despite nearly squandering a 21-point lead, Boston ultimately emerged triumphant with a 106-99 victory, securing a 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals and bringing them within touching distance of their historic 18th championship.

As is often the case in fights, pivotal decisions rest in the hands of the judges—or, in this scenario, the referees. With 4:12 remaining, Luka Doncic fouled out, a contentious call upheld upon review despite protests from the Dallas camp alleging that Jaylen Brown initiated the contact. The absence of their star player at a critical juncture significantly weakened the Mavericks, akin to losing their strongest puncher in the final rounds of the bout.

With Doncic sidelined and the score at 93-90 in favor of the Celtics, any hopes of a miraculous comeback were dashed. Boston managed to maintain their composure and secure the win, setting the stage for a potential championship-clinching victory in Game 4 on Friday night.

Throughout this series, Boston has consistently delivered impactful blows—sometimes early in the game, sometimes later—underscoring their resilience and determination.

In Game 1, the Celtics seized control with a commanding 23-5 run. Similarly, in Game 2, a decisive 15-4 surge in the second half proved pivotal. Mazzulla’s warnings about the consequences of losing focus evidently resonated with the team, as they have remained steadfast and focused on their objective.

To borrow Mazzulla’s analogy, the Celtics understand that victory is never guaranteed until the final bell rings. The sight of the championship trophy looms tantalizingly close, serving as a potent motivator for the team as they strive to etch their names in the annals of basketball history.


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