Oh, there are all sorts of ways to illustrate how Game 2 of the NBA Finals turned into a debacle for the Celtics, but we might as well start with something that’s at least mildly amusing rather than ‘exasperating.
Nick Stauskas, Sam Hauser and Malik Fitts each outclassed Marcus Smart, Al Horford and Robert Williams III. Members of the Celtics’ bench brigade scored 3 points apiece, while this trio of starters were limited to 2 apiece.
Fellow Eric Fernsten All-Stars Luke Kornet scored as many runs (2) as the Celtics’ individual starters. It’s a shame the Celtics couldn’t find a loophole in the rules to let Matt Ryan and Broderic Thomas come in and wear a few jumpers in their street clothes.
The box score tells us that the final Game 2 score was Warriors 107, Celtics 88, but it was by no means that close. After Jayson Tatum hit a second straight 3-pointer with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter to cut Golden State’s lead to 68-62, the Warriors began a 25-2 run that continued into the fourth. quarter, thus turning this one into a mockumentary titled “Silly Celtics: Did you really think you’d sweep the top two here?”
Believe it or not, the Celtics’ performance in the third quarter — when they were outscored, 35-14 — was even worse than that title.
Celtics coach Ime Udoka made the wise decision to send in his punt team and pull out his starters with 10:45 left and the Celtics trailing, 93-64. The Terry Duerod tribute group that makes up the bench brought the final margin closer to what the team deserved, effectively “winning” the fourth quarter, 24-20. Wait, are we still doing this “winning quarterbacks” thing, or was that strictly an Eastern Conference-only deal?
Either way, after an adequate start – the Celtics led up to 9 in the first quarter, but carelessness with the basketball and curious shot selection helped the Warriors hover and take a lead of 52-50 at halftime – it all turned into a disaster.
It became overwhelmingly clear midway through this Steph Curry-fueled run (he had 29 points, and by the way, when did he get boring at Jeter level?) that there would be no hint of a comeback. like the one the Celtics pulled off in Game 1, when they fired the Chase Center lights and beat the Warriors in the fourth quarter, 40-16.
The Celtics have now been outscored in the third quarters of this series, 73-38. This seems like something they should address if they are indeed serious about collecting an 18th Banner.
Despite the disaster in Match 2, don’t count on this series being settled anytime soon. The Warriors adjusted after losing Game 1, including raising Draymond Green’s agitator rating to 100. He didn’t play basketball in Game 2, he played bumper cars, and that was a brilliant tactic.
He’s talked non-stop, annoyed more than one Celtic at a time (Grant Williams, maybe try the quiet approach?), and is well aware he gets away with more after being fouled technical because the officials do not want to expel leading players.
The Celtics let Green into their head, but that’s not why they lost. They lost because they didn’t protect the ball in the first half when they had the opportunity to take control (12 assists for 11 half-time turnovers). They lost because Jaylen Brown scored the first 8 points for the Celtics and then acted like a quick start made him invincible for the rest of the game (he made 1 of his last 11 shots).
They lost because they stopped moving the ball, because Tatum (who shot well from deep) went 2 of 10 from 2 and was 36-under, because Robert Williams is struggling to move and there’s no decent alternative, and because Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams only gave them a little more than Joe Barry Carroll and Purvis Short gave the Warriors.
Let’s face it: It’s human nature after winning Game 1 like they did to be comfortable to some extent knowing that if you lose Game 2, winning a split in San Francisco moves always have the home advantage in your favour. Ime Udoka certainly didn’t see it that way – he said his big takeaway from the first two games is that “we lost Game 2” – but it’s understandable the Celtics might be saying to themselves: “Get the separation , go home , and gather it there.
Especially those Celtics who have to chase Curry through about 10 screens and half a dozen lead blocks per Green per possession.
Of course, it’s frustrating that they lost, with the golden opportunity they had. But that should come as no surprise. Do you know why they lost? That’s right, Curry got hot and the Celtics played a knucklehead ball.
Do you know why else? They lost because they are the Celtics of 2022, and for as much fun as this run has been, and will be againwe should know by now that they never make it easy for themselves.
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