Breaking Down Game Three of the NBA Finals Quarter by Quarter

Good morning! The Boston Celtics overcame the Golden State Warriors’ third quarter surge to take a 2-1 lead in the 2022 NBA Finals. If you’re on the East Coast and didn’t watch the whole game, I can’t blame you, as it finished around 11:30 PM EST. Here’s a recap of the game quarter by quarter, so you can make sure you didn’t miss anything important that happened yesterday:


First Quarter:

Credit to Michael Dwyer of AP Images for Picture

Like they have throughout most of the series, the Celtics got off to a good start, obtaining a 12-4 lead in large part due to offensive rebounding. Jaylen Brown made all of his shots to start the game, en route to a 17 point first quarter. The Warriors shooting was off from three, as they started off the game shooting 1 for 8 from that range. Al Horford hit Stephen Curry in the head when he put up a three once the refs had stopped the game; but that’s no excuse for missing threes. Midway through the first quarter, the Celtics led 18-9.

During the later parts of the first quarter, both teams came out with exclamation dunks; Andrew Wiggins had one of many to follow, Horford had an uncontested dunk in the paint, and Brown rose up high over the basket before slamming one home. Brown would finish the quarter with 17 points, while his counterpart, Jayson Tatum, wasn’t off to a hot start. Tatum had a turnover in the first quarter which we’ve seen a lot of; his handle was too loose and the ball just got away from him.

At the end of the first, the Celtics led 33-22

Second quarter:

Credit to The Boston Globe for Picture

The second quarter started off with Nemanja Bjelica driving into the lane, throwing up a floater; and getting rejected by the ridiculously long arms of Robert Williams. Williams presence was felt in the paint both defensively and offensively, as the Celtics were outscoring the Warriors 18-6 in the paint.

Draymond Green and Grant Williams got into some beef, as early on in the second, Green kind of tackled Williams, and then flopped while trying to get the foul call. When the blocking foul was called on Green, he tried to plead his case to the refs, while all the Celtics fans in the building immediately began yelling for Green to receive a tech. How dare he even talk to the refs, right?

Not long after, Williams and Green got into yet another scuffle, as when Williams knocked down Green, Green did that annoying thing where he starts clapping in another guy’s face. This pissed off Williams, and he and Green had to be separated.

Despite Thompson not doing much in the first quarter, he hit back to back shots to give the Warriors a spark. Another man that brought the Warriors energy was Andrew Wiggins, who had three dunks in transition that second quarter.

After Tatum hit two threes in a row and a layup, he had nine points, but not everything was going great for the Cs. Payton Pritchard was guarding Jordan Poole, despite Derrick White clearly being the better defender. Poole showed immediately why my prediction was correct, as he instantly drained a three over the 6’1″ Pritchard. Soon after, Wiggins had one of his transition dunks, stole the ball, and threw it to Steph, who made the contested three. This quick swing forced the Celtics to call a timeout and give them momentum.

Wiggins wasn’t the only dunking machine, however; his counterpart on the Celtics turned out to be Brown, who had more exciting dunks then I could count. One of the best was a pass from Tatum to Brown, who flushed it with two hands.

At the end of the first half, the Celtics were up, 68-56.


Third Quarter:

Credit to Jim Davis of The Boston Globe for Picture

The Warriors are known for being a third quarter team, and the stats back this up. They proved this was true during Game Three, as the Splash Brothers got very hot. Curry hit one three, then another, then a mid range shot, on his way to 22 points. Afterwards, Curry made a three, drew a flagrant foul from Al Horford, and made it a four point play with the free throw. They also got the ball back, and when Otto Porter threw up a prayer of a three-pointer, it miraculously went in, gifting Golden State with a seven point possession. Thompson drained a few threes as well early on in the quarter, and the double digit lead the Celtics had held became an 82-80 lead with 3:54 left in the third.

With 3:42 left in the third, Curry hit yet another three, giving the Warriors their first lead since it was 2-0 in the first quarter. There was nothing the Celtics could do to stop the greatest shooter ever, who had 15 points in the third quarter alone.

While Horford and Williams continued to hall in the rebounds, Tatum still had trouble finishing, and even when Brown had another great dunk, it was overshadowed by all the shots Curry made.

Finally, Curry went to the bench towards the end of the quarter, giving the Celtics a bit of breathing room. However, they didn’t get off too easy, as Thompson would hit a mid-range shot and three soon after, giving him 25 points for the night. The Celtics were able to reestablish a four point lead before the quarter ended.

At the end of the third, the Celtics led 93-89. In the third quarter, Curry and Thompson combined for 25 points; the same amount of points the Celtics had during the entire quarter.

Fourth Quarter:

Credit to Jesse D. Garrabrant of Getty Images for Picture

The Celtics finally got Curry to miss a three at the start of the fourth quarter; after they double teamed him and knocked him over in the process. Soon after, Smart banked in a three after Tatum drew a double team from the Warriors.

After the banked in three, the Celtics got a key stop, and Tatum had what looked to be a clear layup; until it was contested by a Warriors player at the last second, and he missed it. The Warriors would score on the ensuing possession.

The Celtics had a few possessions like that where they couldn’t capitalize on key plays when they needed to score and get some momentum going. Tatum hit a mid-range jumper soon after, and Grant Williams has been doing his job grabbing offensive rebounds and scoring.

Robert Williams blocked one of Curry’s floaters, his 4th block of the game. Williams is incredibly athletic, especially considering all the injuries he’s been through. He also became the second Celtics player with 3 blocks and 3 steals in a Finals game, with the only other Celtic to do so being Kevin McHale, per ESPN’s Stats and Information.

Unfortunately, Williams’ historical defensive greatness isn’t enough to stop Curry, who dropped in a step-back three soon after, his 29th, 30th, and 31st points of the night. The Celtics simply haven’t been able to make their threes; they’re lucky they’re getting so many offensive rebounds from Horford and Williams. With the extra possessions and a reverse layup by Tatum, the Celtics boosted their lead to 11 with 5:33 left in the fourth.

The Warriors played a 1-2-2 zone against the Celtics offense, and when Curry, who was by the left elbow, collapsed on the driving Tatum, he kicked it out to Smart, who nailed the corner three. Brown got a filthy block against Thompson on the other end, igniting the Celtics crowd. Paul Pierce and Bill Walton were among the crowd, and Pierce was seen multiple times telling the crowd to make some noise.

Midway through the quarter, when Tatum put up a mid-range fadeaway and missed, over half the players on the court dived for the loose ball. This resulted in Smart and Curry getting tangled up in a jump ball, and Horford landed on Curry’s leg. Curry was visibly upset by this, as was Green, who could be seen talking to the refs. Green fouled out soon after, only scoring 2 points total in the game. Andre Iguodala would replace him for the rest of the 4th.

During another crucial possession, Tatum was doubled and passed to Horford. Curry gambled for a steal, but didn’t get it. Horford, drawing another defender towards him, lobbed the ball up to Williams, who slammed it home, giving the Celtics a 4 point lead. Williams had 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks up to this point. You can see the amazing play below:

After Smart made a layup over Curry with 2:19 left in the quarter, the Warriors called timeout, and that pretty much sealed the game. Curry and Thompson then came out of the game, indicating the Warriors knew they had lost.

After two minutes of garbage time, the buzzer sounded, with a final score of 116-100. The Celtics had taken a 2-1 lead over the Golden State Warriors.



Tatum: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists

Brown: 27 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists

Smart: 24 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists


Curry: 31 points, 4 rebounds, 54.5% from three

Thompson: 25 points, 3 rebounds, 38.5% from three

Wiggins: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks

I hope this proved useful to those who weren’t able to watch the full game. Don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog so you don’t miss more NBA Finals content, and as always, have an awesome day!



One thought on “Breaking Down Game Three of the NBA Finals Quarter by Quarter

  1. Excellent re-cap. Unfortunately, I was not able to catch the entire game, so I appreciate reading your blow-by-blow description of the 3rd and 4th quarters. Looking forward to reading your next blog.


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