NBA Finals Recap and Game 3 Preview
We’ve had two games of the NBA Finals so far between the Warriors and Celtics. This is exactly the thrilling and fast-paced matchup that basketball fans have wanted for a long time, and it’s delivering on all levels right now.
Latest NBA playoff news
- Golden State wins Game 2 to even the Finals
- Games 3 and 4 to be played in Boston
- Quin Snyder steps down as Utah Jazz coach
- LeBron hints that he’d love to play for Warriors one day
The Empire Strikes Back: Warriors Even Series With Emphatic Game 2 Win
What a game this was turning out to be… until the Warriors blew open the doors with a massive third quarter. While Game 2 ended with Golden State picking up the victory, 107-88, it was certainly the 35-14 third quarter that really sealed the win.
Of course, the bulk of the success has to go to Stephen Curry’s masterclass performance of 29 points, but it was also the intensity and physicality of Draymond Green that helped propel the Warriors to tie the series, 1-1.
Green played with an urgency we haven’t seen for a long time, and despite not lighting up the box score, Draymond’s spark simply ignited the Warriors on both the offensive and defensive ends.
As well, Jordan Poole’s 17 points off the bench extended the lead and made a Boston comeback impossible. Of course, Poole hitting the ridiculous half-court buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter didn’t hurt.
For the Celtics, well, you’re rarely going to win a game when you give up 33 points from 19 turnovers. Yes, sadly, the turnover bug struck Boston again, as careless passes and bad drives into traffic affected the squad time after time.
Scoring was a bit of an issue in the second half for the Celts, as despite the team being only down by two points at the half, it was stupid passes, bad shots, and overall a lapse of concentration that helped the Warriors take command of the game.
Boston needed much more from its stars in the second half, as Tatum scored 21 in the first and only seven in the second. Brown, too, started out hot but finished the game with only 17 points from a woeful 5-17 shooting.
Another cause for alarm was the trio of Smart, Horford, and Robert Williams, who combined for an astonishingly low six points. This is just not good enough from three of the best players to back up Tatum and Brown.
Williams, in particular, has been hampered by a knee injury throughout the NBA playoffs and looks iffy at best right now. Either he won’t play at all in Game 3, or his effectiveness will be limited by mobility. This is a shame, as Williams is terrific at shot blocking, rebounding, and catching alley oops close to the rim.
Still, even though it might look like the sky is falling for Boston, remember that the team did win Game 1 and has appeared down and out several times against both Milwaukee and Miami. The Celtics rally at the right time, and they’ll be back in the groove when playing at home in Game 3.
5 takeaways from Game 2 of Boston vs. Golden State
- Jordan Poole finally makes himself known with a stellar performance
- Boston’s horrific turnovers make another appearance
- Curry is unstoppable, but Draymond is the heart and soul of the Warriors
- Tatum and Brown can’t slack off in the second half
- Celtics need a fully healthy Robert Williams to make things competitive
3 ways the Celtics can win Game 3
Boston fan? Here’s what to look out for.
Be careful with the ball
It sounds so simple, but the Celtics inexplicably have games where they must believe that the basketball is a ticking time bomb that needs to be thrown away quickly. 19 turnovers in Game 2 is a shocking amount, really. We’re looking at you, Marcus Smart, so please stop trying to make a fancy cutting pass when a plainer one will do.
Tatum and Brown are certainly not without fault, either. Tatum needs to stop trying to drive into the lane with the intention of getting a foul call. Just make a move to score without counting on the refs bailing you out. Brown must chill out with his drives to the hoops through three defenders, as he just doesn’t have the ball-handling skills to get past everyone.
Plus, we will scream if we see another contested fadeaway with one second left on the shot clock. These are shots that only the likes of Jordan and Kobe would hit, and even then barely, so leave it to these idols.
Never, ever take the foot off the pedal
The Celtics struggle with playing intense basketball across the full 48 minutes. Just like we saw in Game 7 vs. Miami, Boston very nearly didn’t make the NBA Finals when they forgot how to play basketball and the Heat were one missed shot away from defeating the Celtics.
Whether it’s fatigue or forgetfulness, the Celts often struggle with keeping up good habits for the entire matchup. But if Game 2 vs. the Warriors is anything to go by, once you start playing on autopilot, then Golden State will thank you and score bucket after bucket.
It shouldn’t be so hard… just find the open guy and only pass or shoot if you’re sure that the ball will reach its target. The Warriors are incredible at scoring in transition, so don’t give them even more chances by giving up the ball.
Don’t take your eyes off Curry
No one in the NBA should be left alone more than Stephen Curry. The greatest shooter in the game can hit it from pretty much anywhere on the court, so it remains inconceivable as to why he’s standing alone at times against Boston. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but the Celtics have to stick to him like glue.
Curry could very well win his first Finals MVP should the Warriors be successful, as he’s averaging 26.6 points, 6.0 assists, and 5.0 rebounds in the playoffs. The Celtics need to do all in their power to ensure Curry doesn’t cook like he wants to.
3 ways the Warriors can win Game 3
Love Golden State? Watch out for these.
Keep trying high pick & rolls
Oftentimes, the easier option is the best course of action. The Warriors bamboozled the Celtics throughout Game 2 with simple pick & rolls at the three-point line to get Curry open for a major swish.
The Warriors play a free-flowing, fast offense that centers on finding the open man. However, if that doesn’t work, then just get Draymond or Looney to set a pick and ensure Curry gets an open three. This isn’t always possible against a rapid switching defense like the Celtics, but it’s often better than anything fancier.
Use Looney more
Kevon Looney has been an absolute beast for the Warriors over the NBA playoffs. He’s always in the right spot for a quick handoff and easy dunk, plus, he grabs around 5,000 (more or less) offensive rebounds every game. He often deserves to score far more than 6.0 points per game, and he can finish at the rim well enough with low post moves.
If the Celts’ Robert Williams III (a.k.a Time Lord) isn’t at full strength or is indeed sidelined for Game 3, then Looney will have much more space to breathe. Horford is a capable enough defender for Boston, but he can’t be everywhere at once, so if the Warriors are savvy enough then they’ll ensure that Looney gets at least eight easy buckets.
Trust in Klay
Is Klay Thompson the player he was before devastating injuries kept him out of action for nearly two years? Not exactly, but he’s incredibly close, and that’s good enough. Klay has been a hot and cold shooter over the course of the NBA playoffs, but thankfully with teammates like Curry and Poole, you never really notice so much if Thompson is having a bad game.
If the Warriors are to win the NBA championship in 2022, they’ll need Thompson to be as close to Klassic Klay as much as possible. His 4-19 shooting in Game 2 is pretty worrying, but you just know he’s going to have a 15-20 game at some point in the series, so you have to keep trusting him.
Author: Joe Garland