Celtics

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart join rare company in Celtics’ win

Each contributed in multiple ways to help Boston go up 2-1 in the NBA Finals.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart all joined an historic trio to help the Celtics go up 2-1 in the NBA Finals in Game 3. Elsa/Getty Images

The Celtics’ first home NBA Finals game in 12 years not only saw them walk away with a win, it also saw three of their top players make history.

Jayson Tatum scored 26 points, dished out a game-high nine assists, and also had six rebounds. Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 27 points, dolled out five assists, and grabbed nine rebounds. Marcus Smart scored 24, grabbed seven rebounds, and also dished out five assists.

With those stat lines, Tatum, Brown, and Smart became the first trio of teammates to have at least 20 points, five assists, and five rebounds in an NBA Finals game since 1984. That game also involved the Celtics, but it was the Lakers’ trio of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Michael Cooper that put up that stat line in Game 6 of that series.

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Tatum wasn’t exactly sure what to think when he was first told that he was a part of a trio to achieve that in an NBA Finals game.

“I was born in ’98, so that was way before my time,” Tatum told ESPN’s Lisa Salters with a smile. “That’s great company to be in. Just watch film, build off this, don’t get too happy, and get ready for the next one because we know they’re going to come out ultra-aggressive.”

Even though accumulating points, rebounds, and assists is nice, Tatum, Brown, and Smart were all focused on limiting one stat in Game 3: turnovers.

Turnovers have been the bane of the Celtics during this playoff run. They’re 0-6 in games that they’ve turned the ball over at least 16 times, with Sunday’s Game 2 being the most recent example.

The Celtics’ main three ballhandlers did a good job at limiting that in Game 3. While Smart had five turnovers, Tatum and Brown combined for just four.

Brown shared what little thing made a difference in the Celtics’ ability to be clean with the ball in Game 3.

“Overall, the little things is what matters,” Brown said. “Those setting screens, setting a good screen. It might seem like a part of the game that is overlooked, but setting good screens is so key in a game like this. The little things is what win, and today we had a bunch of great screens and got a bunch of open looks. We’ve got to continue to do the little things going forward.”

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As Brown focused on the minor details the Celtics executed on in Game 3, Tatum opened up on what he saw in Game 2 that forced the Celtics to turn the ball over more than they would’ve liked.

“We had a lot of turnovers at the rim last game, with those guys stunting and getting back to the big,” Tatum said. “So I think just watching film and seeing where open spaces were and making sure we were getting to those, so guys could see kick-outs and things like that.”

Even though Smart didn’t control the ball as well in Game 3, he believes that was able to help the Celtics’ star duo keep their turnovers down.

“Like I said before, Jaylen and Jayson, they’re going to get everybody’s best two defenders,” Smart said. “Usually most teams put their not-the-best defenders on me, and it’s my job as the point guard to really just relieve pressure for those guys. They’re going to be hounded 24/7 and their job is already hard, so it’s no need to make it harder by putting the ball in their hand and just tiring them out.”

Wednesday’s Game 3 wasn’t the first time the Celtics’ trio each posted the 20/5/5 statline this postseason. Tatum, Brown, and Smart each did that in the Celtics’ Game 7 win over the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, making them the second trio in league history to do that in a Game 7.

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