Joe Mazzulla noted that composure is what leads to these Boston Celtics games in the NBA Finals. Surely enough, those UFC videos that the head honcho showed before Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks paid off. There was no Kristaps Porzingis for them but Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Jrue Holiday all showed up. More importantly, their revolving door of big men came into play. These tall guys showed how excellent they were in defending on drop coverage while also stretching the floor. Xavier Tillman and Al Horford showed their poise under pressure.

Give the Celtics bigs their flowers

Jun 12, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) shoots against Boston Celtics forward Xavier Tillman (26) during the first quarter in game three of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
© Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The production that Kristaps Porzingis churns out is very big much like his stature. This is why Joe Mazzulla elected to give Al Horford more time to breathe on the bench. Who came in to hound the Mavericks' supposedly unstoppable duo of Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic? He goes by the name of Xavier Tillman and his intangibles spoke more than his numbers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

The Mavericks clearly knew that they were going to hunt whoever the Celtics big was. But, that poison they picked ended up biting them back for 11 minutes. This was largely because they faced someone who loved these types of challenges when he was still with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Xavier Tillman was all over Kyrie Irving and running with the best of them despite his bulky frame and size. He ended the night with two huge blocks to prevent the Mavericks' lead from ballooning. Moreover, he also notched a huge three-pointer a la Al Horford to turn the momentum around prior to the end of the first half. All of this was rounded out by four productive rebounds with one of them giving the Celtics a second chance possession.

Despite his age, Al Horford continues to be one of the most versatile bigs in the league. The 38-year-old, you read that right, played 37 minutes and was great on closing outs while also being on the drop. Those eight points on the stat sheet do not say much but his effort to prevent lobs and make the Mavericks pull out hasty kickouts helped the Celtics a lot.

Al Horford's defensive effort netted the Celtics two big steals and a block. His rebounding numbers clocked in at five while his playmaking in the post helped them get two assists. The veteran can ball and is only one win away from winning the only thing missing in his resume, an NBA championship.

Joe Mazzulla's stars came out and played

While intangibles and numbers not reflected in the box score mattered, it was still the Celtics duo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum who closed the game out. The two backpacked the scoring production of their team by recording a collective 61 points. They also had nine assists and 11 rebounds between them.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown played winning basketball. They just need to replicate this performance one more time in these NBA Finals. It was a hostile Mavericks crowd but the banners left at TD Garden made them accustomed to this pressure. Heartbreaks engulfed fans year after year since that 2008 banner. Now, it might be time to hoist the 18th with just one more win needed in the NBA Finals.