The Celtics had a 21-point lead early in the fourth quarter of Game 3 against the Mavericks before Dallas went on a 19-2 run to get within three points with under four minutes to play.

Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters he envisioned the Mavericks going on a run heading into the critical stretch of Game 3.

“The type of shots they take alone, you knew they were going to make some sort of run,” Mazzulla said, per league-provided video. “Some of those came at the expense of our offense. I thought we missed a couple of reads that changed coverages, and they changed matchups on three or four straight possessions, and we missed the read to get the right shot.”

Mazzulla added: “Having an understanding of we know teams are going to make runs; can we manage those? And we know why we make runs, and we know why other teams make runs on us. … But it’s understanding why. Is it execution? Is it things we can control? And once we answer those questions, we can move on to the next phase of the game.”

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Kyrie Irving had his best game of the series, leading all scorers with 35 points and Luka Doncic added 27 points on another solid night that ended abruptly when the Dallas star fouled out with 4:12 remaining.

Despite the Mavericks stars combining for 62 points, the Celtics weathered Irving and Doncic’s aggressiveness to take the commanding 3-0 series lead.

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“I think it was one of those quarters, we had like 26 points of shots — of points we can control. So you have to fight like hell to take those away,” Mazzulla said.” Once you take those away, then you can either execute or game plan or work to adjust. I thought our guys did a great job of understanding the points that we could control, and they fought to take those away throughout the rest of the game.”

The Celtics have the chance to clinch the series on Friday night. The Mavericks will look to be the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win their franchise’s second title.

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Featured image via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images