Steph, Warriors Find More Third Quarter Magic Before Even NBA Finals

SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Currywho said he lost sleep after the Golden State WarriorsGame 1 collapses, tossing and turning less if he goes to bed on Sunday night after the Warriors’ 107-88 win in Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

After a 34-point outing in Game 1, Curry once again demonstrated his devastating combination of long-range marksmanship and constant movement, scoring 29 points on 9-for-21 shooting from the field, 6-for-7 from the foul line and 5- out-12 from behind the 3-point line. While it wasn’t his most efficient play, Curry dodged a typically strong Boston Celtics defense in half court. His handle and step back of the dribble were well tuned, and he started an unusual number of the conventional pick-and-rolls that the Warriors generally forgo. Curry’s dance partner, Draymond Greenkept the Warriors’ dribble handoff game buzzing.

As is tradition during their eight-season run, the Warriors staged their most powerful rally in the third quarter, beating the Celtics 35-14, their best points difference in any Finals quarter in franchise history. Unlike their prolific spurt in Game 1, Golden State didn’t squander it on Sunday.

Green, who suggested that the Celtics’ Game 1 exploits would be impossible to sustain, proved right. Be it a regression to the mean, the Celtics couldn’t match their historic 21-for-41 performance — including the dazzling 9-for-12 fourth quarter output that sparked their comeback in Game 1 — of 3-point range, though she still shot at a healthy 40.5% clip.

The Celtics generated more revenue (5) in the third quarter than successful field goals (4). With more than 10 minutes to go into the fourth quarter and the Celtics trailing 29 points, Boston coach Ime Udoka cleared his bench.

While turnover has long been an Achilles heel of the Warriors, it was Boston that got infected with the turnover bug in Game 2. Careless passes on the half-court plagued the Celtics, especially in the first half, but nearly wiped out their continued sparkling shot from outside the arc. In total, they finished Sunday night with 18 turnovers in 96 possessions.

Game 2 will not be placed in the Warriors’ time capsule under any of Chase Center’s 32 private wine cellars. Their patented elegant transgression seemed ordinary at times. Klay Thompson struggled for the second straight game from the field, and the Warriors desperately need more scoring outside of Curry. Golden State has calibrated its defensive rotations, but there were a handful of noticeable glitches in its pick-and-roll coverage.

Fortunately, the Warriors’ defense provided the margin in the win. If Golden State struggled with its edge accuracy, the Celtics didn’t even show up. Satisfied from distance and midrange, the Celtics tried only six shots directly at the basket, committing three errors there.

The Warriors enjoyed the return of one of their most capable defensive aces, Gary Payton II† Payton, who broke his elbow in the conference semifinal when he was ravaged by… Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooksplayed 25 minutes and scored seven points without missing an attempt from the field.

The Warriors have averted a potential disaster in San Francisco, but they still have some work to do as they prepare for the hostile environment of TD Garden. Game 2 won’t cost the Warriors any sleep, but there’s certainly plenty of noise outside in Boston.

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