As the NBA Finals moves to TD Garden for Game 3 on Wednesday with the series tied at 1, the Celtics should have the edge, but recent numbers suggest otherwise. Boston is 5-4 at home and 8-3 on the road in the playoffs.
The Warriors, meanwhile, have won at least one away game in 26 straight playoff series.
“We always know how to find a way to win games, whatever the style, high score, low score, defensive battle, shootout, whatever it is,” Golden State guard Stephen Curry said. “We find another level of courage and determination, just an ability to find a way to do it. Being in hostile environments, you get tested, you get pushed. Our experience shows up at the right time.”
The previous 39 times teams have split the first two games of the Finals, with the winner of Game 3 winning the series 82.1% of the time (32-7).
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“I think our playoff experience, our guys understand the importance of making sure you don’t let your guard down in that first (road) playoff game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We know they’re going to bring a level of physicality that we brought last game. We have to be prepared for that.”
The Warriors rediscovered their defensive toughness in their Game 2 win, limiting Boston to 88 playoff points. They also forced the Celtics to 19 turnovers. Boston is 1-5 in these playoffs while having 16 or more turnovers; with 15 or fewer gifts, the Celtics are 12-2.
“Sometimes not forced, but also too penetrating. You have to have carryover and consistency in that area,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “That kind of tells a story.”
Boston guard Marcus Smart said the Celtics needed to match the intensity of Golden State’s Draymond Green, who found himself in a pair of skirmishes – first with Grant Williams, then with Jaylen Brown – that seemed to fuel his team.
“You answer fire with fire, don’t you? Smart said. “We just have to turn around and do the same. If he has to come here and try to be physical, this is our home and we have to protect it.”
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Klay Thompson doesn’t want anyone to worry about him.
The Warriors sniper has struggled so far in this series, going 10 of 33 from the field and 4 of 15 from 3-point range.
But he is convinced that his routine and his history will get him out of his last crisis. That, and watching some of his old highlights.
“That’s the beauty of playing in our time. You can go to YouTube and look up all your great moments,” he said.
His favorite research?
“Probably just YouTube ‘Game 6 Klay’ because there were some very pressured situations I was in,” Thompson said. “I ended up shooting the ball well. When you can do it with your back to the wall, you can do it anytime. It’s just about keeping that mental strong.”
Kerr said Andre Iguodala, who missed Game 2 with inflammation in his right knee, is questionable for Game 3. Iguodala played 12 minutes in Game 1, his first time on the court since the opening series of the Warriors against Denver.
For Boston, Robert Williams III is on course to play after Smart inadvertently fell into his surgically repaired left knee in the third quarter of Game 2. Williams had to adjust his approach while playing just 10 weeks after surgery.
“You just need to add a little more technique, a little more thinking to the game,” he said. “Obviously…with the injury I have, I’m not as explosive as usual. A bit more physical, using my body a bit more.”
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