The Golden State Warriors are one of the best second-half teams in the NBA, which translates into epic comebacks in the third quarter. The Boston Celtics missed a chance to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals against the Warriors in Game 2 when they were outscored 35-14 in the third quarter, which was punctuated by a half-court buzzer-beater from Jordan Poole. The Warriors coasted to a victory and evened the NBA Finals at 1-1.
The Warriors had never fallen into an 0-2 hole in 23 different playoff series under head coach Steve Kerr, and they weren’t about to have that happen against the Celtics in the NBA Finals.
The NBA Finals shift to Boston for the next two games at TD Garden. The oddsmakers installed the Celtics as a -3.5 favorite with Game 3 slated for Wednesday. The Celtics are a slight favorite to win the series and 2022 NBA Championship at -115 odds. After winning Game 2, the Warriors are now -105 odds to win the title.
Warriors: another bounce back
Postseason losses don’t faze the Warriors because they typically bounce right back. In the 2022 playoffs, the Warriors are now 5-0 after a loss, including their biggest bounce-back victory with a win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors battled the Celtics with more intensity, which was palpable from the opening tip in Game 2.
“It was definitely an attitude adjustment,” said Draymond Green. “They are who we thought they were, so we knew we had to keep our foot on the gas pedal and not let up, and we did that.”
The Warriors clamped down on defense, allowing the Celtics to shoot just 37.5% from the floor. They particularly targeted Derrick White, who has become the Celtics’ most prolific scorer from their second unit. White shot just 4-for-13 from the floor.
“Everybody was more engaged,” said Kerr. “It was pretty obvious, just our level of force and physicality was ramped up quite a bit, and it had to be.”
Steph Curry saved some of his best mojo for the third quarter. He scored 14 of his team-high 29 points in the third, including a trio of 3-pointers. But he also played air-tight defense.
“Steph was breathtaking in that quarter,” Kerr said. “Not just the shot-making, but the defensive effort.”
Poole was quiet most of Game 2 until he knocked down a pair of massive 3-pointers to end the third quarter and cap off a 19-2 run for the Warriors. Poole swished a buzzer-shot to end the third quarter that was a step inside the half-court line. That 39-footer put the Warriors up by 23 points.
“Obviously, a big shot to get the crowd into it,” said Curry. “Put a dagger on that great third quarter that we had.”
Jordan Poole beats the Q3 buzzer!
— NBA (@NBA) June 6, 2022
Celtics: another awful 3Q
It was a perfect storm of events. The Celtics are haunted by terrible runs in the third quarter, whereas the Warriors make excellent halftime adjustments, which makes them a dangerous team in the third frame.
The Celtics looked like a blooper reel, committing more turnovers than field goals. That’s the kind of ugliness — five turnovers vs four buckets — you expect from a tanking team during the regular season, and not a squad in the NBA Finals.
“That’s been an ongoing theme in the playoffs so far,” said Celtics head coach Ime Udoka. “We’ve turned over the ball. Take teams out of scoring against us in the half court, give them some baskets.
“That was a big quarter for them and really a quarter that put us away,” said White.
“It’s something we have to fix,” said Al Horford.
“I think tonight, turnovers and letting our offense affect how we defend, kind of was a little stagnant in the third quarter,” said Jayson Tatum. “I feel like it translated on the defensive end, and they got going and hitting shots and things like that.”
After a rough Game 1 performance, Tatum led the Celtics with 28 points in a losing effort. He knocked down 6-for-9 from 3-point range, but it wasn’t enough. Jaylen Brown was the only other starter to tally double digits with 17 points. Horford, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams combined for six points.
“Not pretty,” added Smart. “At least we get to play them twice back in Boston.”
Game 3 is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 pm ET, and Game 4 will be played on Friday night at 9 pm ET.
Check out more coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.