With Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals played last night in Boston and Game 4 scheduled for tomorrow also at TD Garden, home of the Celtics, the Golden State Warriors have a key stat in their favor. The Celtics lost two games in their building in the previous two best-of-seven series.
After sweeping the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the postseason, Boston had lost four games at home with the Finals tied at 1-1 heading into last night.
They dropped Games 1 and 5 versus the Milewaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals and Games 3 and 6 against the Miami Heat in the conference finals. Until last Thursday’s 120-108 Game 1 loss to the Celtics, the Warriors were undefeated at home in the playoffs in their three series before the Finals.
The Warriors rode momentum and defense in Game 2 and must continue to have scoring waves while applying defensive pressure on the Celtics to stop their perimeter attack. They held just a 52-50 lead at halftime but stretched it out to 87-64 by the end of the third on the way to a 107-88 victory. The Warriors also had a double-digit lead (92-80) to start the fourth quarter in Game but couldn’t hold it as they were blitzed by the Celtics 40-16 over the last 12 minutes.
“They made a lot of shots,” said Curry, who dropped 34 points in Game 1 and 29 in Game 2. “It seemed like they didn’t miss til deep into the fourth. When you have a team that just finds a little bit of momentum like they did, and they keep making shots, it’s tough to kind of regain that momentum.”
After allowing a combined 65 points in Game 1 from starters Al Horford (26), Marcus Smart (18) and Derrick White (21) coming off of the bench, the Warriors shut them down in Game 2. Horford had only two points on 1-4 shooting, Smart two points on 1-5 from the field, and White 12 making just three baskets on 13 attempts.
The return of Warriors defensive specialist Gary Payton II in Game 2 from an elbow injury suffered against the Memphis Grizzlies in their West semifinals series was a factor. Expect Payton to continue to see time guarding the Celtics’ point guard Smart, as well as explosive scorers Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Moving forward, the Warriors will have to get Klay Thompson in a good rhythm and consistent to counter the Celtics’ scorers. Thompson had 15 in Game 1 but shot 6-14 and in Game 2 was terribly off, missing 15 of 19 attempts, including 1-8 from on 3-pointers.