The Celtics dominate the paint and control the pace to earn a decisive Game 3 victory for a 2-1 series lead.

• Complete coverage: 2022 NBA Finals

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics are back in control of the NBA Finals, now just two wins from championship No. 18 after a 116-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 on Wednesday.

The Celtics blew an 18-point advantage, but quickly responded after the Warriors took a brief lead midway through the third quarter. And a 9-2 run to open the fourth gave Boston the separation that eventually led to a comfortable victory. Jaylen Brown (27), Jayson Tatum (26) and Marcus Smart (24) combined for 77 points, and it was Golden State that had the bigger turnover problem on this night.

> NBA.com/stats: Game 3 box score

One stat stood out from the rest as the Celtics took a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 on Friday (9 ET, ABC).

The basics

Game 3 GSW BOS
Points 100 116
Possessions 94 95
OffRtg 106.4 122.1
eFG% 55.8% 55.6%
FTA/FGA 0.192 0.270
TO% 18.1% 12.6%
OREB% 19.0% 40.8%

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = % of available offensive rebounds obtained

The stat

26 — Points-in-the-paint differential (52-26) in Game 3.

The context

That is tied for the Celtics’ second-biggest differential of the season and also the second-biggest differential for any team against the Warriors this season.

Prior to Wednesday, the Warriors ranked fifth in points-in-the-paint differential in the playoffs at +5.2 per game, and they outscored Boston 40-24 in the paint in their Game 2 victory. With that, Boston ranked ninth at -3.5 points in the paint per game in the postseason.

The Celtics’ dominance in the paint came early and often. It was 14-6 in the first quarter and 18-10 in the second. At halftime, they had more points in the paint (32) than they had in all of Game 2 (24).

According to Second Spectrum tracking, the Celtics had 57 drives in Game 3, up from 47 in both Games 1 and 2 and 22 more than the Warriors had on Wednesday (35). Tatum had as many drives (18) as any two players on the Warriors. Brown, Smart and Tatum all registered 10 points in the paint, while Al Horford tallied eight.

The Celtics also dominated the glass. Their offensive rebounding percentage of 40.8% was both their second-highest mark of the playoffs and the second highest for any team against the Warriors in the postseason. And Boston doubled up Golden State in second-chance points 22-11.

Of course, dominance in the paint is about both ends of the floor. Robert Williams III both defended the Warriors’ shots in the paint (blocking four) and prevented them. Golden State scored just 10 points in the paint in his 26 minutes on the floor and 16 in his 22 minutes off the floor. In total, the Warriors’ 24 field-goal attempts in the paint were their fourth-lowest total of the season.

Both of these teams like to shoot 3s, but the team that’s had more points in the paint has won all three games in this series.

More numbers

The Finals: Traditional | Advanced | 4 factors | Players | Player shooting | Lineups

Matchups: Warriors on offense | Celtics on offense

Warriors playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

Celtics playoffs: Team stats | Advanced splits | Player stats | Player shooting | Lineups

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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