The Boston Celtics used a exceptional comeback to beat their sometimes disastrous third quarter in Recreation 1 of the NBA Finals.
That they had no such luck in Recreation 2.
The Golden State Warriors, powered by a 35-14 third-quarter benefit, blew out Boston on Sunday evening, profitable 107-88 at Chase Middle to even up this best-of-seven sequence at one recreation apiece. And the Warriors did so by exploiting what has persistently been the Achilles’ heel for Boston all through these playoffs: poor begins to second halves.
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“It’s one thing we now have to repair,” Celtics heart Al Horford stated.
Within the three days between Video games 1 and a couple of, Boston talked repeatedly about the necessity to keep away from one other ugly third quarter just like the one it needed to start this sequence, as Golden State’s 38-24 benefit within the third in Recreation 1 was erased solely because of the Celtics turning round and having their very own inconceivable fourth quarter.
There was no such comeback, nonetheless, in Recreation 2. Boston shot simply 4-for-17 within the third quarter on Sunday and dedicated 5 turnovers that turned 11 Warriors factors. Golden State, in the meantime, went 7-for-12 from 3-point vary, as Stephen Curry matched Boston’s level complete by himself.
By the point Jordan Poole buried two bombs from manner behind the 3-point line inside the ultimate 30 seconds of the third — first hitting a 29-footer earlier than then burying one from almost the half-court line because the buzzer sounded — the harm had already been achieved, leaving the formality of the ultimate 12 minutes to be performed for Golden State to tie this sequence up.
“I believe tonight, turnovers, and I believe typically letting our offense have an effect on how we defend, type of was a bit stagnant within the third quarter,” stated Jayson Tatum, who led Boston with 28 factors in Recreation 2 however completed a minus-36 — the worst plus-minus of his profession. “I really feel prefer it translated on the defensive finish, they usually acquired going and hitting photographs and issues like that.”
It’s removed from shocking that Boston is struggling within the third quarter, because it has been a sore spot for the Celtics all through the playoffs. Some numbers to again that up:
Boston now has two of the worst third quarters on this yr’s playoffs: Recreation 1 in opposition to the Miami Warmth within the Japanese Convention finals, when the Celtics had been outscored by 25; and Golden State’s 21-point edge on Sunday.
The Celtics have been outscored by no less than 14 factors 4 instances within the third quarter in these playoffs — all of which have come on the street. Three of these video games have been Boston’s three street losses in these playoffs (Recreation 3 in opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks within the Japanese Convention semifinals, Recreation 1 versus Miami and Recreation 2 in opposition to Golden State). The Celtics’ one win in that scenario was Recreation 1 of this sequence.
Boston has been outscored by 37 factors within the third quarter in these playoffs. And in Recreation 2 of the Finals, the Celtics had extra turnovers (5) within the third quarter than made area objectives (4).
The Celtics had been 2-for-12 on contested photographs in Sunday’s third quarter, per ESPN monitoring knowledge, and they’re 4-for-22 on contested seems within the third quarter within the Finals. Over the course of the playoffs, Boston is taking pictures 35.7% on contested photographs within the third, which ranks fifteenth among the many 16 groups to take part within the playoffs (solely the Toronto Raptors, who misplaced within the first spherical, had been worse).
There’s a purpose, in spite of everything, the Celtics stated a number of variations of the identical theme over the previous couple of days: After saying time and again it’s time to play higher within the third quarter, it’s time to really achieve this.
Then they proceeded to have their third-quarter historical past repeat itself.
“Yeah, it’s undoubtedly irritating,” Celtics guard Derrick White stated. “I imply, we’ve talked about it just about the entire postseason. It’s straightforward to speak about, however we’ve acquired to go on the market and alter one thing.
“That was an enormous quarter for them and actually 1 / 4 that put us away.”
Boston’s third-quarter downside wasn’t the one one of many crew’s dangerous habits this postseason to repeat itself. When the Celtics battle, it’s typically due to turnovers. And on this recreation, Boston had 21 turnovers that turned 33 Warriors factors, the second-most factors off turnovers in an NBA Finals recreation previously 25 years — together with 11 dwell ball turnovers and 9 steals.
“That’s been an ongoing theme within the playoffs to date,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka stated. “We’ve turned over the ball. Take groups out of scoring in opposition to us within the half courtroom, give them some baskets.
“But it surely was extra of the identical in that third quarter. We had 11 for 18 factors in that first half and gave up 5 – 6 extra in that quarter. Sort of blew it open, and that hampered our offense, as properly.”
Moreover, after Horford, White and Marcus Good — members of Boston’s supporting solid — mixed to hit 15 3-pointers in Recreation 1, the Celtics made 15 as a crew in Recreation 2. Gamers not named Tatum or Jaylen Brown went a mixed 6-for-19 from deep.
Boston additionally struggled mightily from 2-point vary, going 15-for-43 (34.8%) — and taking pictures worse on 2s than on 3s.
Principally, although, the Celtics felt like they squandered a chance to place Golden State on life assist. They went into the locker room at halftime feeling like they didn’t play properly and but had been down by solely two factors. Then they performed even worse within the third, and that was that.
Nonetheless, the Celtics do head again to Boston with the sequence tangled up and home-court benefit efficiently secured. Boston is aware of it has loads of issues to enhance if it desires to keep up that benefit and, after dropping two house video games to each Milwaukee and Miami over the previous two rounds, is aware of it wants to guard house courtroom this time.
“The previous doesn’t matter,” Brown stated. “Nothing previously issues up till this second, to be sincere. The whole lot that occurred within the final sequence and the sequence earlier than, who cares.
“Proper now, we’re right here enjoying a unique opponent, a unique crew, and we’ve acquired to take a look at it as such. We’ve acquired to come back out and play our greatest model of basketball, as a result of we’re able to doing it. So we’ve simply acquired to come back out and try this.”
ESPN Stats & Data contributed to this story.
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