The term “Big 3” has come up frequently for about ten years now. Star associations have always existed but they have been popularized with the evolution of the rules concerning the Salary Cap and the Free Agency. In 2010, the Celtics went to the finals with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Today, their main focus is Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.
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A first since the 80s
26 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists for Tatum. 27, 9 and 5 for Brown. And finally 24, 7 and 5 for Smart. 77 cumulative points. It’s only the fourth time in history that a trio of teammates have finished 20-5-5 in an NBA Finals game. And the first time since Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the Lakers in the 80s.
So for Tatum and Brown, it’s become a habit. The two All-Star players almost always score more than 20 pawns. Smart is already less customary because of this. But when he crashes, the Celtics win. His offensive contribution is a barometer for his team. His points serve as bonuses. In any case, he contributes in one way or another by bringing in particular in defense. A bit like Draymond Green for Golden State, he is the third engine thief of his team behind two scorers.
A trio as the engine of the Celtics
All three set the tone on offense last night. Jaylen Brown lit the fuse first by attacking the opposing defense with the ball in hand. He scored 17 points in the first quarter and Boston took an 11-point lead after 12 minutes (33-22). “We followed his example“, explains Marcus Smart about his partner. Indeed, he highlighted the flaws in the Californian defense, yet one of the most effective in the league.
Marcus Smart Jaylen Brown
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Steve Kerr relies on very well-oiled rotations to stifle the opponent despite the absence of a traditional pivot that is long and able to protect the circle. But the Celtics shattered the patterns by constantly outpacing their counterparts or imposing their physical power on them. Brown and Tatum are both tall (for their position), burly and explosive. Smart, he is very difficult to contain when his body arrives launched. Stephen Curry suffered while defending on him and the Boston point guard made his way to the basket several times. Ime Udoka’s players scored 52 points in the paint, against only 26 for those of Steve Kerr. That makes all the difference.
Very mature young players
By being so aggressive, Boston’s three major players made life easier for each other. Because they freed themselves from the spaces which allowed everyone to also return open shots: 10 baskets behind the arc between them. They supplied themselves with balloons, hence the minimum 5 passes for each of them. On top of that, they also make the difference in defense, playing hard.
This trio is definitely in great shape. The maturity released is quite impressive for players who are nevertheless quite young who are discovering the finals. Jayson Tatum is 24 years old. Jaylen Brown 25. Marcus Smart 28. They’re not at the peak of their careers yet, but they’re learning fast. They even give the impression of learning with each game. And on this Game 3, they return the feeling of having understood how to crack the Warriors.
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