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4 takeaways as Warriors defense smothers Celtics in Game 2 blowout


The Celtics couldn’t generate any offense around the rim.

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) celebrates with forward Draymond Green (23) during the second half of Game 2. AP Photo/John Hefti

The Warriors handled business in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, beating the Celtics 107-88 after a superb Game 1.

Here’s the takeaway as an even-numbered series returns to Boston.

1. Biggest takeaway for the Celtics: They need to find a way to generate points around the basket. Game 1 turned when the Warriors crumbled into the paint and gave the Celtics shooters a wide open look. Game 2 was a slog – none of the Celtics’ best players could figure out how to score around the rim.

The Warriors’ defense has strengthened considerably. The return of Gary Payton II has added a very competitive defender – certainly a major improvement over Andre Iguodala. Draymond Green was active and nagging. Andrew Wiggins was solid. Every time the Celtics drove, they encountered active, slippery hands and they finished with 18 costly turnovers, including nine in total by Smart and Tatum. When they went into the paint, they couldn’t capitalize – Jaylen Brown took a lot of brutally tough shots, Robert Williams looked limited, and Smart and Horford combined to shoot a disastrous 2 for 10.

The Celtics generated a lot of open 3s in Game 1. They need to put some pressure on the Warriors in the paint in Game 3 to get some of those looks back.

2. Once again, the third quarter was extremely costly as the Warriors outscored the Celtics 35-14. The Warriors have been a great third quarter team all season, but the Celtics can’t keep allowing them to take control of the game during this time.

3. After struggling in Game 1, Jordan Poole finally started in the third quarter and finished with 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting. A positive for the Celtics: he always looked shaken when the game was competitive. A negative point: Sometimes all a young player needs is to see the ball go in several times.

Still, Poole is a defensive target. Playing it on the floor is a double-edged sword.

4. Much will be made of officiating, especially in the first half after the Warriors benefited from several questionable calls. Draymond Green fouled Grant Williams after crossing him. Jaylen Brown was given a shooting foul even though replays showed he clearly didn’t hit Gary Payton II in the air. Officials blew a Celtics fast break to call a technical on Jordan Poole, only to have the technique called off, leaving the Celtics with no free throws and no fast breaks.

Whatever you think about officiating, the Celtics need to handle it better. Their shot selection suffered for the rest of the half and they never looked comfortable after that period. A champion team must be able to overcome these frustrations, whether they are legitimate or not.

We will have more takeout later in the evening.


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