The challenge of winning the first two games on the road is tough, no matter the series. But attempting to do so against a team with championship pedigree increases the difficulty. It requires a team playing at their best.
The Celtics were at lower levels than Sunday. They shot 15/37 (40.5%) percent from beyond the arc, and Jayson Tatum produced a team-high 28 points, but 19 turnovers leading to Golden State‘s 33 points forced them to play from behind for most of the night.
Credit the Warriors, they upped their physique, played with more pace, and once they took control of the game, they never let it go.
Now for a deep dive into how they tied the streak with a 107-88 win.
Turnovers cost Celtics first quarter lead
As expected, the Warriors started the game with urgency, which was evident in their level of physicality on the opening possession as Draymond Green battled for the ball with Al Horford, forcing a ball hop. Golden State then battled to prevent Robert Williams from scoring on a lob of his on the rim.
But after Andrew Wiggins entered a three for the first points of the night, the Celtics responded with an 8-0 run. That included Marcus Smart entering the paint with little resistance for a layup and two threes from the left wing of Jaylen Brown. The second put Boston ahead 8-3.
One play that stood out early on was when Wiggins came off a Kevon Looney screen, attacked downhill and tried Horford to the basket, only to have his shot cleared.
At 5:30 p.m., Gary Payton II received a standing ovation. It’s the first time Payton II has played in just over a month due to a broken left elbow.
With 4:47 remaining, after Green knocked down Grant Williams, but the latter was called for a foul, the two stayed in each other’s airspace and continued to chew on each other, which allowed Green to take a technique.
Going into the second quarter, the Warriors held a 31-30 advantage. The Celtics led most of the frame, but seven turnovers, leading to 13 points for Golden State, cost them the lead.
The Warriors also made nine free throws, though they only managed five, one more than Boston, which went 4/4 at the foul line.
Stephen Curry finished the opening period with a team-high 10 points, helping the hosts shoot 4/9 (44.4%) from beyond the arc after starting 1/5.
As for the Celtics, they consistently produced quality shots in the half court and in transition, resulting in 50% shooting from the field, including 6/10 from three.
Brown led all scorers with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 3/4 from long range. Tatum got hot beyond the arc late in the quarter, matching Brown’s 13 points going 4/10 from the field and 3/4 from three.
Additionally, Boston didn’t give up a single offensive rebound and defended Golden State’s split cuts well. The loss of the advance was mainly related to turnover.
Celtics continue to shoot well from beyond the arc, but turnovers plague them
About 30 seconds into the frame, after a turnover from Tatum, Derrick White made a tremendous effort to deny Jordan Poole a transition layup. Poole nearly picked up a technique afterwards, but officials called it off after reviewing what had happened.
Nemanja Bjelica had an impact in the second quarter that included four consecutive Golden State points on the edge, tying the game at 35 with 8:49 left in the first half.
With the Celtics up five minutes and just under seven minutes remaining, Curry sparked a 10 run by the Warriors, drilling a jumper down from inside the arc, followed by a three-to-one pull-up. from 27 feet. After that, Green found Payton II for a reverse layup, and Wiggins buried a three over the break, giving Golden State a 45-40 advantage with 4:53 to go.
After a timeout from Ime Udoka, Brown attacked from the right wing, drawing in Payton II to assist, and Brown turned to Tatum for a three that ended the hosts’ 10-0 run and took it to 45-43.
With 54.3 seconds left, Green fell back on Brown after the latter threw a three, sending them both to the ground. Green was called for a foul, but a disgruntled Brown threw Green’s legs out of him. Green told Brown, “don’t do that”, and Brown stood over Green.
Usually the result is a double technical, but nothing was called beyond the foul. It seems like a wise move given the background and the fact that Green would have been kicked out.
Golden State took a 52-50 halftime lead. Curry led the Warriors with 15 points while Wiggins had ten.
The hosts also began to charge Boston with well-timed cuts, often coming from around the corner to get a layup. They generated 24 points in the paint. Twenty-five of their 44 shots came from that area of the floor. They went 12/25 (48%) on these looks.
Golden State assisted on 15 of 20 field goals, shooting 45.5% from the field, including 6/16 (37.5%) from outside the arc.
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The Celtics hurt themselves throughout the first half committing 11 turnovers, translating to 18 points for the Warriors.
Other than that, they did a lot of good as Tatum entered the break with a game-high 21 points. Brown had 15 and White scored eight off the bench.
Boston didn’t shoot well from the field (38.6%), but knocked down 10/19 (52.6%) of their three. The Celtics have assisted on 12/17 field goals. As shown at the end of the first image, it’s all about taking care of the ball.
Warriors outscore Celtics 35-14 in third quarter
At 9:23, after missing his first four attempts, Klay Thompson finally knocked down his first three of the game. That gave Golden State a 59-52 advantage.
For the second game in a row, the Warriors got off to a good start in the third quarter, as they are likely to do. They went on a 13-2 run, beating Boston 15-4 to open the frame, after Wiggins went 1/2 to the free throw line, putting them ahead 65-54 with 7:37 left in the frame. period.
With 6:47 remaining, Ime Udoka took a technical for his displeasure with the way the game is ruled. Curry made the free throw that followed, giving Golden State a 68-56 lead.
With 5:46 to go and the score still 68-56, Steve Kerr signaled a timeout. There’s plenty of time to get over what happens next, but with the Warriors outplaying the Celtics to start the second half, leading by 12, it’s one of the game’s most important moments.
Boston responded out of the break with a steal from Marcus Smart and three by Grant Williams and Tatum, a 6-0 run that cut the deficit to 68-62.
But Otto Porter hit a three into the left corner, Curry picked up a pass from Horford and Green earned a trip to the line, where he made both shots to put the hosts ahead 73-62 with 3:35 left. remaining.
The foul that sent Green to the line was on Smart, his fourth staff, prompting Udoka to replace Payton Pritchard for him.
With 2:53 to go, Curry came off a Payton II screen and entered a three that extended Golden State’s run to 8-0. He then buried a pull-up on a high-ball screen from Porter, sweeping a shot from 30 feet that gave the Warriors a 79-62 advantage. It also gave Curry a game-high 29 points.
With just under 30 seconds on the clock, Jordan Poole drilled a three from 29 feet. He followed that up by burying a shot from just over half the field late in the quarter, sending the Warriors into the last frame with an 87-64 lead.
Warriors quickly put the game on ice
Golden State opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run, including another Poole three and a Bjelica breakaway bucket on the edge after a Horford turnover. His basket gave the hosts a 93-64 advantage. After that, Udoka took a time out and emptied his bench.
In the Celtics’ 110–80 loss, Tatum finished with a team-high 28 points. However, his performance seemed more impactful in Game 1 when he punished the Warriors with his passing, dishing out 13 assists, including nine for three, an NBA Finals record.
Brown scored 13 points in the first quarter on Sunday, but finished the night with 17. And while Boston shot 15/37 (40.5%) from beyond the arc, the visitors committed 19 turnovers, leading to 33 points for Golden State. That issue made up for what the Celtics did well and forced them to play from behind for most of the game.
As for the Warriors, Curry generated a game-high 29 points. And while Green’s nine points, seven assists and five rebounds might not jump off the stat sheet, he had a huge impact on the result, setting the tone defensively and playing with an urgency and physicality that his team fed.
Golden State also drilled 15/37 (40.5%) threes and drove in 40 runs in the paint as the Warriors tied the series at one.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals is Wednesday night. Tip for Game 1 is at 9:00 a.m. ET. Inside The Celtics will have content related to the game’s release before, during and after. And follow @BobbyKrivitsky on Twitter for pre-game updates and analysis on release.
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