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'That's my guy': Nelly halftime performance a highlight of Celtics' Game 3 win

Alder Almo - Philstar.com
'That's my guy': Nelly halftime performance a highlight of Celtics' Game 3 win
Singer Nelly performs during halftime in Game Three of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden on June 08, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts.
ELSA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

BOSTON – At halftime in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, rapper and singer Nelly entertained the 19,156 soldout crowd at TD Garden with some of his biggest hits, including “Hot in Herre” and “Dilemma“ featuring (Kelly Rowland), while sporting a Jayson Tatum jersey as a nod to his fellow Missourian. 

Those Nelly’s couple of throwback hits perfectly encapsulated the Boston Celtics’ first NBA Finals home game since 2010. 

Packed to the rafters, the atmosphere inside the legendary Boston Garden, now called TD Garden, was so hot as their Celtics brought the heat to take a 2-1 series lead with a 116-100 win Wednesday (Thursday Manila time). 

The animated crowd collectively and lustily jeered Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green with “f*ck you, Draymond” chants. Green did not react and admitted after the game that it was what he expected. But his two-point, four-rebound dud -- his worst performance in 30 NBA Finals games – was a dead giveaway of how the heated Boston crowd got into his skin. 

Without Green impacting the game on both ends, not even the Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combining for 11 threes and 56 points -- could bring the Warriors home. 

The Celtics survived the usual third-quarter haymaker from the Warriors. They responded with the knockout punch in the fourth quarter. Tatum and Marcus Smart each had eight points in the pivotal quarter, giving Warriors coach Steve Kerr a dilemma he failed to figure out. 

Tatum’s final basket, courtesy of a Smart assist with 5:53 remaining, restored a double-digit lead for the Celtics, 107-96.  In the next play, Tatum returned the favor and set up Smart with a corner three that broke the Warriors’ spirit. 

Tatum and Smart finished what Jaylen Brown had started. 

Brown scored 17 points in the opening quarter as the Celtics came out smoking hot to seize a 33-22 lead that set the tone for the game. The Warriors were relegated to playing catchup basketball, and even after a Curry-led rally in the third quarter gave them a brief 83-82 lead, the Celtics remained composed.  

Tatum’s seven points and two assists in the third quarter cushioned the impact of the Warriors’ attack. 

Brown paced the Celtics with 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Tatum continued his transformation into a complete player dishing out nine assists with 26 points and six boards. Smart complemented their star duo with 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists. 

They became the first trio to each have 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a Finals game since Los Angeles Lakers legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper in 1984, ironically against the Celtics. But Boston won the championship that year. And they are two wins away from raising Banner 18 that will break the deadlock with their arch-rival Lakers. 

Tatum is averaging 22.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and NBA Finals-leading 8.3 assists while shooting 40 percent from deep.  

He was barely four years old when Nelly became the biggest star to come out of St. Louis. Missouri with those number one hits in 2002. 

“That's my guy. I've known Nelly forever,” Tatum said. “Him and my mom went to high school. He's known my dad. St. Louis is as big as this room, so we all know each other. Nelly is arguably like the most famous guy from St. Louis until I catch up.”
Tatum is on his way to surpassing Nelly as the biggest star out of St. Louis. The Celtics’ Banner 18 and a Finals MVP would cement not only his place in Boston’s lore but in Missouri. 

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Alder Almo is a former senior sportswriter for Philstar.com and NBA.com Philippines. He is now based in Jersey City, New Jersey, and writes for the New York-based sports website empiresportsmedia.com. 

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