Boston Celtics

If you were expecting the physicality and intensity to slow down in Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals, it sounds more likely that it will actually go up.

That’s at least if you base it on comments from players and coaches during the Celtics’ NBA Finals media availability on Tuesday. they’re coming off a Game 2 in which Warriors big man Draymond Green made life tough on Jaylen Brown and others with his pestering style of play. Things got emotional at times, and it’s possible it contributed to the Celtics’ sloppy play (18 turnovers) and third-quarter collapse.

But of course, the C’s have guys who can get under skin, too. No need to just take it. So you can expect the Celtics’ more fiery guys to hit back when the Celtics and Warriors tip off for Game 3 on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

  • Jun 2, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) dribbles the ball while defended by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (center) during the first quarter in game one of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 2, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) dribbles the ball while defended by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (center) during the first quarter in game one of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    It would make sense that Marcus Smart, the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, would be inclined to fight back. When asked about responding to the Warriors’ physicality and occasional chirping, he made of the most Marcus Smart comments ever.

    “I mean, you respond to fire with fire, right?” Smart said. “We’ve just got to turn around and do the same thing. If [Green’s] gonna come in here and try to be physical, this is our house, and we’ve got to protect it.”

    So, Smart is taking the Metallica approach. It seems like a good approach for a tenacious defender who can just as easily frustrate opponents trying to score. Just don’t send him into a burning building.

    But either way, expect a vintage Smart game at the defensive end in Game 3. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s deployed matchup-wise, and whether he can bring a similar frustration out of the Warriors in the process.

  • Be Yourself

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Head Coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors in Game Two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 05, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 05: Head Coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics looks on during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors in Game Two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 05, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    Smart’s intentions are clear against Green and the Warriors in Game 3. What about the rest of the roster? Celtics head coach Ime Udoka says he is expecting everyone to just do what they do best. Don’t talk trash if you’re not a trash talker, and if you are, then just get into some chirping, and do all you can to avoid technical fouls. Anything but letting Green walk all over you or get in your head again.

    Udoka was intense as a player, so it may come as a surprise that the normally soft-spoken, reserved coach says he would’ve gotten himself in trouble if he had to go against Green. But his point is he doesn’t want his players to be something they’re not.

    “I say be who you are. If you want to ignore it, ignore it. If you engage, engage. Do what you do. Be who you are,” Udoka said. “The main thing is to continue to stay composed. With us, I don’t think it’s the talking as much as the physicality that they brought. That was noticeable at times. Talking about the first Milwaukee game, the adjustments Miami made were to be more physical. We know obviously that’s what Green does. Kind of bleeds over into the team.

    “For us it’s to be who you are. I told them if I was a player, who I was, I would probably get a double-technical immediately. But that’s not everybody. Do what you do. Block it out or meet physicality with physicality.”

    Smart will do the latter. It’ll be interesting to see what approach that Brown and Jayson Tatum take.

  • Caught up in the antics

    Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) and Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) react after a play as Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) assist in the second half during game two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) and Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) react after a play as Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) assist in the second half during game two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

    Shenanigans, antics, those are perfect words to describe Green’s style of play. Not someone you want to play against. So it wasn’t totally surprising that Brown, after scoring 13 points in the first quarter of Game 2, netted just four the rest of the game after Green keyed on him on defense. At one point, tension boiled over, but Brown and Green managed to avoid ejections.

    Brown, often soft-spoken and even-keeled in media appearances, makes sense as a guy who will try to block out the noise and just play his game. He indicated in his pregame presser on Tuesday that he intends to look past Green’s mischief and just execute his best game. Also he used one of the operative words.

    “Don’t get caught up in that. Just do what we do best. We ain’t got time for that,” Brown said. “Just come out and play basketball, let everything else take care of itself.

    “I’m going to come out, do my job. Everybody needs to come out and do their job. We’re here to play basketball, so don’t get caught up in all the antics and stuff like that. Just come out and play.”

    Brown started red-hot in Game 3 before the Warriors’ adjustments. Now that he’s gotten a taste of what it’s like when the opponent keys on you, on a championship stage, the next step is to adjust to the adjustments and overcome the adversity.

  • Another Big Bounce-Back Coming?

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics shoots against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarterin Game Two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 05, 2022 in San Francisco, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 05: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics shoots against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter in Game Two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 05, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    The Celtics have been the kings of the bounce-back in the 2022 playoffs. And Jayson Tatum has been the ringleader of that.

    So far in the 2022 playoffs, the Celtics are 6-0 after losses, so the Warriors will try to become the first team to beat the C’s in consecutive games. Recent history suggests they’re going to have to do it against a red-hot Tatum. He has averaged 31.5 points in the Celtics’ six playoff wins after a loss, and he’s shooting exactly 50 percent (63-of-126) in those games. He’s also shooting 43.6 percent from three-point range in those contests.

    Tatum was asked about his strong responses after losses, and he kept it simple. He just motivates himself to be better after a bad day at the office, like people in all walks of life would.

    “I mean, you have a bad day at work, the next day you want to have a better day at work,” Tatum said. “I think everybody can understand that. You lose a game or don’t play well, you want to come back and have a better game. I’m sure everybody can relate to that, whatever you work at. It’s all the same.”

    Tatum hasn’t been the most consistent in the playoffs, but he’s also still just 23 years old. He’s relatively early in his career to be on this stage. He and Brown are still learning on the fly what it takes to win it all. But his ability to bounce back from bad games is a great sign for his overall development as a player, and will suit him well in future battles for championships.

  • Where to Get Game 3 of the NBA Finals

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 02: A general view inside Chase Center immediately prior to Game One of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics on June 02, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 02: A general view inside Chase Center immediately prior to Game One of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics on June 02, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Warriors is scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. ET at TD Garden in Boston. It will air on TV on ABC.

    And, as will be the case throughout the series, you can get the radio call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell on 98.5 The Sports Hub, beginning with pregame coverage at 8:30 (not available via streaming.) After the postgame show, you can also get instant reactions on the Adam Jones Show until 1 a.m. Dial 617-779-0985 to call in for a chance to share your thoughts.

    Read below for Sean Sylver’s latest column, on the adjustments the Celtics need to make from Game 2 to Game 3.