Boston Celtics

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 19: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat and Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics fight for a loose ball during the second quarter in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 19, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

For the third straight game, the Boston Celtics established a sizable third-quarter lead against the Miami Heat. But this time around, and for the first time all series, the Green made sure it didn’t slip on the way to a 117-106 Game 3 victory over the Heat.

Boston’s first win of the third round came by way of what was a take-charge, punishing approach, with the Celtics scoring a staggering 60 points in the paint, nearly doubling the Heat up (32 points in paint) with an aggressive approach that simply overwhelmed Miami’s weaker links.

In what was a wire-to-wire victory for Boston, the Celtics stormed out to a nine-point lead through the opening 12 minutes of play, and increased it to 13 by halftime by way of an 11-2 run to close out the final two and a half minutes of the half.

The first-half domination was led by Jaylen Brown, too, with 17 of the team’s 62 first-half points on 8-for-12 shooting.

And as mentioned, Brown and the Celtics made sure that there was no third-quarter letdown, with a 26-point frame by way of makes on nine of their 21 field goal attempts (42.9 percent). It wasn’t a continuation of their first-half prowess (they only won the quarter by two points), but it was the complete opposite of their minus-20 third-quarter effort in Game 2.

This game wouldn’t come without a mild heart attack, however, with the Heat storming back and making it a five-point game with under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. But thanks to some key free-throw makes from Marcus Smart, the Celtics avoided any possible stage for true disaster, putting an end to their two-game slide and slicing their deficit in half.

Brown was the team’s driving force in this game, really, with 26 points on 11-for-17 shooting (64.7 percent). Brown was one of four Celtics to hit the 20-point mark in the win, with Jayson Tatum (25 points), Kemba Walker (21 points), and Marcus Smart (20 points) joining him for a team-wide winning performance.

The Heat, meanwhile, had just one start hit the 20-point mark (Bam Adebayo, 27 points).

The other big story in this one: Gordon Hayward made his return to action after missing 12 straight postseason tilts due to a right ankle sprain. The 6-foot-7 Hayward came off the bench in this one, played without a minutes restriction, and finished with six points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals in 30:30 of play.

Boston will look to even the series with Game 4 set for Wednesday night.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.