The NBA Finals are now deadlocked after the Warriors used a third-quarter masterpiece to transform a close game into a romp. The Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 107-88 in Game 2 on Sunday night, with Stephen Curry scoring 29 points and Jordan Poole connecting from just inside midcourt to close out the crucial quarter.
“I thought everybody was more engaged,“ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after his team improved to 5-0 after a loss in these playoffs. “It’s pretty obvious. Just our level of force and physicality was ramped up quite a bit, and it had to be.“
Poole led the Warriors with 17 points in the third quarter, as they outscored Boston 35-14 to turn a two-point halftime lead into a 23-point advantage. The Celtics hoisted the surrender flag and cleared their bench after the Warriors scored the first six points of the fourth quarter.
“We said we needed to play with desperation,” Curry said. “That’s what we did.”
For Boston, Jayson Tatum got 21 of his 28 points in the first half. Derrick White provided 12 points for the Celtics, while Jaylen Brown added 17 points despite a five-for-17 shooting night.
A big run decided the game, just like it did in Game 1. In the second half, the Celtics went on a 48-18 run to win the opener. In Game 2, the Warriors didn’t waste any time, embarking on a 43-14 run from late in the first half to early in the fourth quarter to turn a close game into an easy win.
Curry scored 14 points in the third quarter, nailing three of his five three-pointers. Boston shot four of fifteen in the quarter, was outscored 21-6 on three-pointers, and allowed the Warriors to score 11 points off five turnovers.
“Steph was breathtaking in that quarter, “Kerr said.
In Game 1, the Celtics transformed a 15-point third-quarter deficit into a 15-point fourth-quarter lead, but not on Sunday. Ime Udoka, the coach of Boston, even received a technical penalty in an attempt to convey his discontent with things, especially the lack of whistles, but to no avail.
“I just let them know how I felt throughout the game in a demonstrative way, on purpose, to get a technical,“ Udoka said.
As the third quarter came to a close, Poole added the finishing touches, receiving a pass in the final seconds, dribbling across the midcourt stripe, creating some space for himself, and letting fly.
Curry met him with a smile and a hug, the Chase Center crowd erupted to their feet, if they hadn’t already, and the game’s outcome was all but decided right there.
And for the first time in the Warriors’ new building, the Celtics were defeated. The Celtics came into the night 4-0 against the Warriors’ in there three-year-old home, the only team to win all four games there.
The Celtics were attempting to join only two other teams in NBA Finals history, the 1993 Chicago Bulls and the 1995 Houston Rockets, in sweeping two road games to begin the series. The Bulls and Rockets went on to win the title, while 31 of the previous 36 teams to start with a 2-0 lead went on to win.
Boston’s situation is not hopeless. To become champions, the Celtics only need to win their remaining home games, but it won’t be easy against a Warriors club that has actually won one road game in an NBA-record 26 straight playoff series.
“I think the deeper you get in the playoffs, the better the competition, the better the defense,“ Kerr said. “So you have to adjust. You’ve got to figure out how to attack, and you have to do that as a team. You have to do that individually too.“