NBA Finals: Three keys for Warriors to even series vs. Celtics in Game 2
SAN FRANCISCO — Draymond Green doesn’t think the Boston Celtics will make 21 3-pointers in Game 2.
"They hit 21 3s, and Marcus Smart and Al Horford and Derrick White combined for 15 of them," Green said, perusing the box score. "Yeah, 15-for-23 from those guys, you know, so, we’ll be fine."
Having two days to review video of Boston’s 120-108 victory in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors came back with a more clear picture of what went wrong in the series opener and what they need to do in Game 2 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
"We have to play with more force on the defensive end," Green said. "I think there were times in the game when they didn't feel us. When you're playing against a great team at this level at this point in the season, they have to feel you every possession."
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Here are key areas for the Warriors in Game 2:
Not only did the Celtics make 21 3s — the second-most ever in a Finals game — they shot 51.2% from deep. Golden State needs to do a much better job defending the 3-point line.
Of Boston’s 41 3-point attempts, 38 came with a defender no closer than four feet, including 23 with a defender no closer than six feet, according to nba.com/stats.
While the Celtics scored 40 points in the fourth quarter (27 on 3s), Warriors coach Steve Kerr said sloppy defense in the three previous quarters led to Boston’s scoring outburst in the fourth. Boston’s ball movement had Golden State scrambling to cover shooters.
"Once you get into a rhythm, due to them not feeling our pressure, then it's tough to stop," Kerr said. "It's easy to go back and look at the shots in the fourth quarter and be like, 'Man, they started hitting,' but the reality is some guys got comfortable early in that game, and once you get a guy comfortable, it's hard to break that rhythm. So we just have to make sure they feel us every possession."
Better play from Green
Green was just 2-for-12 from the field with four points, three turnovers, 11 rebounds and he fouled out. It just a one-point difference, but the Warriors were outscored with Green on the court.
"I understand that ultimately, if I play well, we win," Green said. "And if I don't, we still can, but if I do, we win. So that falls on me."
Steph Curry isn’t worried about Green’s response.
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"No other scenario where I see playing out any different than him coming out with great energy, focus," Curry said. "Just making his impact felt on the court. I know he takes all that stuff personally in terms of his standard and what he knows he can do out there on the floor. So when he doesn't meet that, he's usually pretty honest and accountable to himself first and foremost, to the team, and then you go out and hoop.
Regardless if shots go in for Green, expect him to be better defensively in Game 2.
For three quarters, the Warriors played solid offensively, taking a 92-80 lead into the fourth. It got away from them with missed shots, turnovers and just 16 points in the final 12 minutes.
"I reminded myself the playoffs are about being uncomfortable until you complete the mission," Klay Thompson said. "So it was a harsh reminder, but something we all needed to go through, including myself. It's about how we respond tomorrow, which I am very excited for."
The Celtics play a versatile and physical style of defense, especially on the perimeter with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Boston’s goal is to make it tough to score and wear down Golden State’s scorers. Thompson had just 15 points on 14 shots.
"I need to make more shots. I need to take more shots. I need to get more stops," Thompson said. "I need to just be myself — yeah, that would be one of the greatest to ever shoot it, so I'll rely on that."
Jordan Poole had nine points — half his playoff average — on 2-for-7 shooting, including 1-for-5 on 3s.
"You see the tape and you realize, 'OK, we could do this, we could do that, and you make some adjustments,' " Kerr said. "But ultimately you trust that like any player who has made the impact that he has, you trust that there's going to be some ups and downs. I thought it was a tough night for him, but I have full confidence that tomorrow will be much better."
The Warriors want to use their offensive creativity to help their scorers have better opportunities. In this season's playoffs, the Warriors have responded to a loss with a victory in the next game. Since their Finals run began in 2015, they are 21-8 after a loss in the postseason.
"How much it lingers, that's the test. How do you bounce back?" Curry said. "You go home after the game. You're probably thinking about every play that happened, what you could have done differently. A defensive rotation, shot would have went in, a decision you made, whatever it is, those things kind of circle in your head and you probably lose a little bit of sleep that first night.
"And then you come back the next day and realize you have an opportunity to protect your home court again on Sunday and just keep things moving. Get yourselves back into the series."
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA Finals 2022: Warriors' keys to even series vs. Celtics in Game 2