Game 2 of the NBA Finals is complete, and the Golden State Warriors evened the NBA Finals 1-1. How did they earn their 107-88 victory, and what can you anticipate for Game 3 in Boston?
2022 NBA Finals Game 2 Recap
NBA Finals Game 2 Recap
The game started as a reverse of Game 1: Boston wrested control of the game behind a scoring explosion from Jaylen Brown, the inverse of Stephen Curry’s start on Thursday night. Golden State seemed nervous but crawled back in the game, ending the first quarter up 1 and the second up 2. The Warriors outscored the Celtics 35-14 in the third quarter to take control of the game for good. Draymond Green did his best impression of a pinball and looked to create contact on both ends. He received a technical after an argument with Grant Williams, and Boston head coach Ime Udoka earned one in the third quarter as well.
The Warriors deployed fewer help defenders in the paint against Boston, opting instead to stay closer to the Celtics’ shooters. That proved to be the right move. Jayson Tatum torched the Warriors in the first half, draining a number of his signature stepback threes going left, but Boston finished with 15 made threes after sinking 21 in Game 1. The Warriors were able to match the number of made threes this game, and Boston’s 18 turnovers gave the Warriors their edge. Gary Payton II’s return was key to limiting threes and forcing turnovers.
Neither team was able to find consistent scoring outside of Curry and Tatum, but the Warriors’ improved defensive strategy and execution proved to be the difference. Still, the Celtics will be content with achieving a 1-1 split in their two road games. This looks to be a long, memorable series.
NBA Finals Game 2 G.O.A.T.
Stephen Curry was the Greatest Player of All Time (of this NBA Finals game). Curry followed up his 34-point outing in the Warriors’ loss with 29 tonight. He roasted a variety of Celtics defenders in transition, finding space to launch from outside. He made Boston’s big men pay whenever they weren’t “up to touch” (literally, unable to touch Curry) when defending Curry’s screeners. Curry created open layups for Kevon Looney and dished through the sea of green defenders. He held up defensively and ensured the Celtics found only limited success targeting him. There is no other contender for MVP of tonight’s game.
Curry’s productivity against the second-best defense is even more impressive considering the Warriors haven’t had a consistent supplemental scorer in the series. Jordan Poole finished with 17 points on the back of some late threes, some of which came after the game was already decided. Golden State will need his newfound shooting touch to travel if they are to win a game in Boston.
NBA Finals Game 2 Goat
There were more candidates for the worst player in Game 2 of the NBA Finals than best, unfortunately. Poole struggled tremendously for much of this game. Steve Kerr opted not to bring him in for his normal third-quarter rotation; he came in with just over a minute left after coming in roughly six minutes into the third quarter of Game 1. The Warriors’ win absolves him and Klay Thompson, who finished just 4-19 from the field. Thompson got up a lot of shots in the fourth quarter in the hopes of finding a rhythm, but his jumper is severely out of tune.
Boston’s collective turnovers are the true goat for the losing squad, but Al Horford and Marcus Smart struggled mightily in Game 2. Those two shot 10-15 from three in Game 1, but slumped to a combined 0-3 in this game (Horford didn’t attempt a three). Increased defensive attention from the Warriors certainly contributed, but Horford especially struggled and looked every bit a 36-year-old in this game. Smart gets the nod as tonight’s goat, though, as his five turnovers “led” Boston. He had a couple of Warriors-esque passes that sailed out of bounds without threatening to find a teammate.
Looking ahead to NBA Finals Game 3
Game 3 is in Boston Wednesday night and promises to be a pivotal challenge. Curry, Thompson, and Green have won a road game in every playoff series they’ve played together. Whether or not that continues depends in large part on the help around them. Curry is a generational star, and Green’s defensive performance was to his standard after a lackluster Game 1. Andrew Wiggins has paired well with Green on defense but has not been able to finish around the rim against Robert Williams. Poole was having a miserable Finals debut before coming alive in the final 13 minutes of Game 2. Of course, Thompson will have to make shots as well.
One wonders if Boston will give them more opportunities. Boston has tried multiple coverages against Curry, but they haven’t committed to sustained double-teams and hard traps when Curry has the ball. Horford and both Williamses are long, active, and mobile, and the 6’3” Curry might struggle to pass when facing one of those bigs in addition to his primary defender. Boston will hope their shooting improves at home too. They did make 15 threes as mentioned above, but only nine came from players besides Tatum.
The Warriors haven’t committed to hard hedges when Tatum calls Curry’s man to screen his defender. They employed the strategy against Luka Dončić last series, but Golden State has been more willing to switch Curry onto Tatum. Tatum got that switch twice and drew fouls on Curry with Boston in the bonus late in the second quarter. The Warriors hedged and were able to keep Wiggins on him the next possession; it ended in a 24-second violation by the Celtics. Don’t be surprised if Curry hedges more in Game 3.