The Golden State Warriors took a punch in the face from the Boston Celtics in Game 1 and were unable to respond. Boston’s length and physicality were bothersome and resulted in the Warriors’ first home loss of the postseason. There was growing concern surrounding the Warriors prior to Game 2 due to the commanding nature of the Celtics’ victory.
The tune of the series certainly changed following Game 2. The Warriors brushed off the matchup concerns and produced a commanding victory for themselves. The 107-88 victory tied the series up at one win each before the matchup heads to Boston. The Warriors outscored the Celtics 55-38 in the second half and blew the game open. There is still plenty of work to be done in the series, but the victory is certainly a sigh of relief for Golden State.
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How Warriors turned tables on Celtics in Game 2 of 2022 NBA Finals
It is rare for a team to have as much postseason experience as the Golden State Warriors. The Game 1 victory was an incredibly disappointing outcome for Golden State. Despite holding a comfortable lead for most of the game and leading by 12 heading into the fourth quarter, the Celtics came out on top. Their dominant 40-16 performance in the fourth quarter broke the game open and secured the win.
For many teams, this would be a devastating loss. For the Warriors, it was business as usual.
While there were tweaks to the game plan, Golden State remained confident in the team’s ability. It was discussed on the broadcast how Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green made it a point to lead by example this week. The 88 combined NBA Finals games for the trio clearly made a difference in their even-keeled demeanor. The team was braced for war and prepared to produce a bounce-back victory.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson & Draymond have now won 18 NBA Finals games together in their careers, the 2nd most by any All-NBA trio in the last 50 years.
The most Finals wins by a trio belong to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker & Manu Ginobili (19 wins)
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Neutralizing Al Horford
One of the most notable game plan adjustments was the defense on Al Horford. The 36-year-old led the Celtics in scoring in Game 1. He scored 26 points and was 6-of-8 on 3-point attempts in the matchup. This was a career high for 3-pointers made in a game by Horford as well as the most ever scored in an NBA Finals debut.
The big man was clearly an afterthought in the Warriors’ defensive game plan in Game 1. They allowed him to float freely beyond the arc and was given open 3-point looks as a result. While Horford is no sniper from downtown, he is good enough to make the team pay and proved this in the opening matchup. Horford has shot 46.3% from beyond the arc this postseason on 4.3 attempts per game.
It was a completely different story in Game 2 as Horford was picked up on the arc and became a much larger part of the defensive focus. As a result, the veteran ended with just two points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes of play. Horford did not attempt any 3-pointers and was just 1-of-4 from the field overall. He also was held without a shot attempt throughout the entire first half. The increase in defensive attention on Al Horford made a notable impact on the Warriors’ success in Game 2.
There has been so much discussion about the elite defense of the Boston Celtics. While they are certainly an imposing force on the defensive end, the Warriors are no slouches either. Golden State ranked second in the NBA in defensive rating this year, trailing only the Celtics in this category. The Warriors change their scheme throughout the game and throw a variety of different looks at opposing offenses. This complex system is spearheaded by Draymond Green, whose effective (yet sometimes annoying) competitive spirit is vital to the team.
The defensive intensity was brought up a few notches in Game 2. They forced 19 total turnovers from the Celtics and converted them into 33 points. Marcus Smart coughed the ball up five times, while Jayson Tatum tallied four turnovers. Steph Curry, Kevon Looney, and Otto Porter each tallied three steals in the victory, with the Dubs racking up a whopping 15 steals. This was six more turnovers than the Celtics had in the opening matchup and 23 more points allowed off the mistakes. In comparison, the Warriors turned the ball over 12 times and only allowed 15 points off these turnovers in Game 2.
There is still plenty of work to be done in the series, but the Warriors secured the must-win victory in the Game 2 matchup. The unwavering confidence in the team helped them bounce back and the improved defensive effort brought home the victory. Holding the Celtics to just 88 total points, it was clear there was a different level of defense in the second matchup. Expect the Warriors to continue this effort moving forward as they strive for another championship.