Warriors dominated by Celtics in Game 3, but not for short stature

BOSTON — After the Warriors were beaten in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, the talk basketball fans have been talking about this season roared from a temporary slumber.

size. And the Golden State Warriors lack it.

Warriors are too small. again.

As if James Wiseman last played 14 months ago, he could have been the answer on a night when the Celtics won 116-100 and went 2-1 in a best-of-seven inning.

As if Golden State’s failure to add an unpopular or unemployed 7-footer by the February trade deadline could be the difference between winning and losing.

The Warriors’ problem in Game 3 wasn’t their size. Compared to the Celtics, they lack conviction. Given the opportunity to make a statement on a young team inspired by a hostile environment, the Warriors were the less confident team from the start.

“They put a lot of pressure on us and it felt like we were swimming against the current most of the time,” coach Steve Kerr said.

A barometer of effort is rebound. All five Boston starters scored at least six points, with center Robert Williams III leading the team with a game-high 10. Guards Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart combined for 16 points. The Celtics controlled the glass 47-31 and led the offensive rebounds 15-6.

“Offensive rebounds are just a killer,” Kerr said. “They had about 20 or so second-chance points (actually 22). That’s the real difference in the game.”

The most impactful player on the court is Williams. He is 6 feet 8 inches tall. Weighs about 235 lbs. He is not a scorer. His most reliable shot is a dunk off a lob. He has plenty of athleticism, some of which are not yet, since his limp left knee was removed from surgery for two months.

Yet there is Williams, who stumbles around the court, the definition of perseverance — or insanity — is still able to control offense, rebound, block (4) in the paint, and score 8 points on 4-for-5 shooting .

“In our game plan . . . we’ve talked about knowing where he is because, especially depending on who he’s guarding, he could be coming out of nowhere,” Stephen Curry said. “There was a game early in the fourth quarter where I got Grant Williams and thought I had a shot and you underestimated his athleticism and how much he interfered with the shot.”

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Williams is smaller than Kevin Rooney and roughly the same size as Otto Porter Jr. His huge influence on the outcome is not a matter of size, but of desire. He gets to the rim faster.

And his teammates are faster on the ball. They don’t play at the same pace as the Warriors, and that pays off not only in rebounding, but also in loose ball recovery.

“We gave them too many advantages,” Draymond Green said.

“When you make a team feel comfortable, especially at their home ground – in front of a home crowd, it’s hard.”

After losing two of three straight games for the first time this postseason, the Warriors clearly faced a competitive crisis. They knew what they had to do, but failed to do it well enough to prosper.

With the Celtics amassing 52 points and owning the glass, the conversation about size was quelled as the Warriors beat the tall team to the NBA Finals in Game 3. But not because of their size. The tougher the Boston dog, the more determined his character is.

If the Warriors can’t win that fight, they can’t win the series.

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