For any team in the NBA Playoffs, evolve or die is a mantra to live with. The same qualities that made you one of the best teams during the season opener could make you extremely susceptible in a seven-game series against the odd opposition.
There were numerous concerns raised after Game 2, but the underlying advantage is that the series is now set at 1-1 and Boston will return to TD Garden. Although Golden State had a greater need to win Game 2 than Boston, that doesn’t explain their lack of preparation on Sunday night.
Now is the opportunity to find out how to win Game 3. It’s obvious what the Celtics must do to offset the Warriors’ Game 2 alterations.
The Celtics need to go small
The Boston Celtics’ fourth-quarter surge in Game 1 was primarily due to coach Ime Udoka’s decision to play a smaller group. It worked great, as the Celtics won the fourth quarter 40-16 and rebounded to grab a 1-0 series lead.
It was logical to assume that lineup to remain in Game 2, but things quickly deteriorated. Udoka appeared togive his hitters a break so they could score in the fourth session, similar to Game 1. But he got a little too nice with it, and the Warriors punished the Celtics to pay for it. It must be obvious by now that the double-big combination will not be enough to beat Golden State.
The major issue with the double-big lineups is that Williams is now unable to threaten the Warriors in the zone. He’s yet capable of a number of blocks and dunks a game, but Golden State is on the verge of removing him from the lineup. He can’t hit, so he doesn’t create much distance on offense, which slows down things in the zone. He struggles to maintain with anyone on the floor when dragged out there on defense.
Derrick White has been a sensation off the bench hitting threes regularly, and Boston is only pushing things easier for Golden State by restricting his time. He’s a considerably better match for the Golden State Warriors than he was for the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.
White could not only assist the Boston Celtics to achieve their offensive goals by creating a greater room. He can also guard Golden State’s most lethal range. Grant Williams is another option, although he hasn’t been particularly good defensively, to begin with, despite being a capable outside shooter on the other end.
In Game 2, Golden State delivered a powerful punch, but Boston already had the counter. All they needed to do now is put it into action.