The Boston Celtics survived a furious late-game comeback Wednesday night as Luka Doncic could only watch from the bench, holding on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-99 at American Airlines Center. Joe Mazzulla's team now leads the NBA Finals 3-0, a massive advantage from which no team in league history has ever recovered.

Jaylen Brown continued his strong play for Boston, finishing with 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists on 12-of-22 from the field. Jayson Tatum finally came alive as a scorer, too, picking up slack left by Kristaps Porzingis' absence en route to a team-best 31 points.

It was Brown who most helped the Celtics stave off the Mavs' rally, though, scoring nine points and grabbing five boards in the fourth quarter. He also drew Doncic's sixth foul with 4:12 remaining, leaving Dallas without its best player during the game's most critical moments.

As a result, Brown has overtaken Tatum as the betting favorite to win NBA Finals MVP despite the latter holding that edge before Game 3 tipped off.  He currently boasts -340 odds to take home the Bill Russell Trophy, far better than Tatum's +270 mark. No other player for either team has better than Doncic's +2900 odds to be named Finals MVP.

Jaylen Brown savors Celtics' victory with ‘brother' Jayson Tatum

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) celebrate after defeating the Dallas Mavericks in game three of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Tatum got off to a red-hot start on Wednesday, leaving his previous shooting struggles behind in Boston. He cooled after the first quarter, though, needing 19 shots to score 18 points over the game's remainder. Doncic also abused Tatum defensively at times in Game 3, targeting the Celtics' superstar early and often while freeing himself from Brown's comparative shackles.

Brown, on the other hand, saved his best for last. He closed the third quarter with a thunderous dunk past Doncic and between two defenders, then followed Tatum's missed runner with a put-back upon Dallas closing to 93-92 with just over three minutes left. The dogged individual defense he played on Doncic no doubt contributed to a frustrating night for Dallas' franchise player, too.

You won't hear Jaylen Brown taking sole credit for his team's gutsy win in Dallas, though. After leaving the court victorious despite Boston's 21-point lead early in the final stanza being cut to all the way down to one, Brown couldn't help but savor Boston's effort—especially given his long history of postseason disappointments alongside Tatum.

“I thought it was a great team win,” he said, per Celtics insider Marc D'Amico. “That lead went through fast. I know we were up 20, and then they stormed back. That's what the beauty of basketball is—you can never let up. It's always time. They were able to cut the lead, but in those moments, those are the moments that you have to just live for.

“I thought we got some good looks down the line in the fourth. Some went in, some didn't, but we was able to make plays and find a way to win,” Brown continued. “We've been in those positions and we've lost, so it was great to overcome that with my brother Jayson and the rest of our team. That was special.”

It was just two years ago that Brown and Tatum's Celtics flamed out of their first Finals appearance. They were the butt of every joke this time last season for falling to the underdog Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Now one victory from raising the franchise's 18th championship banner, Brown and Tatum will live in Boston lore forever—no matter who wins Finals MVP.