NBA Finals 2022: Hot Takes and Top Storylines Warriors vs. Celtics Game 3
Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
The 2022 NBA Finals does not have a clear-cut favorite through two games.
The Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors alternated wins inside the Chase Center. Boston took Game 1 behind an emphatic fourth quarter, and Golden State won Game 2 thanks to a tremendous third quarter.
Both teams have displayed dominance in certain instances but not over four quarters yet.
The series shifts to Boston on Wednesday, with the pressure squarely on the Celtics’ shoulders to take advantage of playing at their home court and take a two-game lead.
Golden State will not go down easily, though, and it might even win if Klay Thompson discovers his shooting stroke from three-point range.
Both Teams Need To Avoid Concession Of Second-Half Runs
The primary theme of Games 1 and 2 was the dominant second-half runs put in by each team.
Boston produced a plus-24 point differential in the fourth quarter of Game 1 to neutralize Golden State’s offense and take away the impact of the Warriors’ typical third quarter run.
Golden State countered in Game 2 by pulling away in the third stanza. The Warriors had a plus-21 point differential in Sunday’s third quarter.
Boston needs to find a way to neutralize Stephen Curry and Co. in the third quarter. The Warriors were plus-14 in the third quarter of Game 1.
Golden State holds a 35-point advantage in the 12 minutes after halftime in the series. If that trend continues, the Warriors should pull away in a few more games and win the title.
Ime Udoka’s Celtics need to focus on a strong start inside TD Garden, but they also need to make the proper adjustments coming out of halftime to avoid losing home-court advantage.
Part of the third-quarter adjustments will come from things both teams are doing well in the first half of Game 3, but Boston can prepare mentally for the third quarter before Wednesday’s tipoff.
Golden State shot 13-for-25 from three-point range in the third quarter of Games 1 and 2. Boston can tighten up its perimeter defense coming out of halftime to prevent Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and others from igniting runs in the third.
The Warriors made the adjustment to Boston’s fourth-quarter surge in Game 1 by just pummeling the Celtics in the third frame and playing better on the three-point line.
Boston was 12-for-20 from three in the second half of Game 1 and 5-for-18 from deep in Game 2.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Co. could eliminate the potential of the third quarter Warriors taking over by getting off to a fast start, but that has been difficult to do in the series. Both halftime leads in San Francisco were two points.
Klay Thompson Must Be Better For Golden State
Thompson is the one star player who has yet to arrive to the NBA Finals.
Curry went off for 21 points in the first quarter of Game 1, Brown starred in the fourth-quarter comeback on Thursday, and Tatum went off for 28 points in Game 2 after dishing out 13 assists in Game 1.
Thompson is 10-for-33 from the field and 4-for-15 from three-point range in the series. Steve Kerr left him on the floor in the fourth quarter of Game 2 to try to get his three-point shot going.
That move was unsuccessful, but it did show how much Thompson means to Golden State’s title quest. The coaching staff wanted him to knock down a few shots to kick-start his confidence ahead of the move to Boston.
Thompson’s struggles could be fixed by an early shot going down in Game 3. That could ignite a run like Curry, Brown, Derrick White and Al Horford were on from deep in Game 1 and the one Jordan Poole produced in Game 2.
Poole covered Thompson’s lack of production with a 17-point outburst in Game 2. That was the second-best scoring total on the Warriors roster behind Curry on Sunday night.
Golden State can’t rely on Poole to provide the offensive support of Curry. It needs Thompson to be better either from three-point range, or attacking the rim in order to combat what Boston throws at it on its home floor.
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