SAN FRANCISCO – Sunday’s result in Game 2 of the NBA Finals was predictable.
The Golden State Warriors have historically been really good after a playoff loss, and the Boston Celtics have struggled to win consecutive playoff games in the previous two rounds. They have followed up their victories with some shaky performances.
That’s what happened in Game 2 as the Warriors hammered the Celtics 107-88, evening the series at 1-1.
The Warriors used a big third quarter, outscoring the Celtics 35-14 and building an 87-64 lead. With Golden State up 93-64 with 10:29 left in the game, the Celtics waved the white flag, replacing their key rotation players with reserves who don’t play much unless it’s a blowout.
Game 3 is Wednesday in Boston (9 pm ET, ABC).
“The preparation was mostly about our intensity and physicality,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It was obviously ramped up tonight, and it needed to be, given what Boston did in Game 1. So that’s the name of the game in the Finals. It’s hard to get an open shot out there, and it’s supposed to be difficult. “
Curry carries Warriors
Warriors star Steph Curry finished with a game-high 29 points after scoring 34 in Game 1.
He had 14 points in the Warriors ’big third quarter as they extended a six-point lead to 87-64 on a 19-2 run in the final 4:17 of the frame. He made consecutive 3s 40 seconds apart as the Warriors extended their lead and put Boston away.
Curry, who had 10 points in the first quarter, shot 9-for-21, including 5-for-12 on 3s. His movement off the ball was much better in Game 2, and he used pick-and-rolls to find favorable matchups.
Lack of Celtics scoring after Brown, Tatum
After the third quarter, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were the only Celtics in double figures in points, and three starters (Al Horford, Robert Williams III and Marcus Smart) each had just two points.
Headed into the fourth quarter, the Celtics were 12-for-27 on 3-pointers but just 9-for-34 on 2-pointers. Smart, Horford and Derrick White were a combined 5-for-21 through three quarters.
Horford had a team-high 26 points in Game 1 but just two in Game 2. Tatum had 28 points and Brown 17, but just seven for Tatum and two for Brown in the second half.
“It was pretty obvious, just our level of force and physicality was ramped up quite a bit, and it had to be,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “What Boston did in the second half, you know, fourth quarter the other night, we knew we had to come with a much better focus and sense of aggression, and I thought that started right from the beginning.”
Turnovers hurt Celtics
Throughout the Eastern Conference finals against Miami, Celtics coach Ime Udoka lamented his team’s turnovers, especially after a loss. The Celtics were sloppy in Game 2 against the Warriors with 19 turnovers that led to 33 points.
Several of those turnovers were live ball giveaways.
“For us, that was a little disappointing. … That’s kind of been a constant theme in the playoffs,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “When that happens, we’re in trouble.”
Golden State forced turnovers and played sound defense, making offense difficult for the Celtics, who shot just 37.5% from the field. Draymond Green said the Warriors needed to make the Celtics feel their presence, and Golden State was much more physical with its defense.
Payton impacts game
Gary Payton II returned to the rotation in Game 2 for the first time since fracturing his left elbow in Game 2 against Memphis in the West semifinals. He made an impact with seven points and three rebounds, and while plus-minus can be a tricky stat from which to extract meaning, the Warriors were 15 points better than the Celtics with Payton on the court. For comparison, the Celtics were outscored by 36 points with Tatum on the court.
Payton, who had seven points, three assists and three rebounds, wanted to play in Game 1, but Kerr said before Game 2, “I didn’t feel comfortable in Game 1 playing him because it didn’t appear that he was healthy enough to play. He was cleared to play, which meant there was an understanding with the training staff with Gary. “
Thompson, Poole find just enough offense
Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole, two players who entered the Finals averaging nearly 20 points in the playoffs, started the game 3-for-16 shooting, including 1-for-10 for Thompson.
But Poole, who made two big 3s at the end of the third quarter, finished with 17 points, making 5-for-9 on 3s, and Thompson had 11 points (even though it was on 4-for-19 shooting).
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Warriors rout Celtics in NBA Finals Game 2 to even series