Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during the first quarter against the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 05, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Did the Celtics want to win this game? Of course. But they played like a team that didn’t need to win, which is precisely why they got plastered by the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night, thanks largely to a third-quarter ambush that looked like the Battle of Little Bighorn.

And so the NBA Finals are now tied at a game apiece, which should not surprise you. Every indication was that this was going to be a long series. The challenge for the Celtics now is to hold serve on their home floor at TD Garden, where the teams will play Games 3 and 4 of this series on Wednesday and Friday.

But if you’re looking for three takeaways from Game 2, here they are:

  • The Warriors played tougher

    Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) and Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) react after a play as Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) assist in the second half during game two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) and Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) react after a play as Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) assist in the second half during game two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite what it looked like, the teams shot an identical 15-of-37 from 3-point distance, precisely 40.5 percent. That’s a very good number. But the Celtics got throttled in the paint, where they were outscored, 40-24, and, frankly, were pushed around. Draymond Green got a lot of the credit, but the bottom line is that the Warriors beat the Celtics at their own game in Game 2, turning the tables from Game 1.

  • The Celtics played stupid

    Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) knocks the ball away from Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins (22) during game two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) knocks the ball away from Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins (22) during game two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    As was the case in both the Milwaukee and Miami series, the Celtics repeatedly dribbled into traffic and turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 33 Golden State points. Marcus Smart (five) and Derrick White (three) were among the biggest culprits in this game, which can’t help but make one wonder whether part of Golden State’s game plan was to pressure the Celtics and exploit their ballhandling.

    “I think we weren’t strong with the ball a lot, searching for fouls instead of going up and making plays, especially with their lack of rim protection,” Udoka said. “For us, that was a little disappointing, to give up 33 points off of 19 turnovers. That’s kind of been a constant theme in the playoffs. When that happens, we’re in trouble.”

  • Boston’s big men were relatively useless

    Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) and Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney (5) go for a rebound during game two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 5, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) and Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney (5) go for a rebound during game two of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Know how many combined points Al Horford and Robert Williams had this game? Four. Know how many shots they took? Five. A hobbling Williams played just 14 minutes while Horford, who scored a team-high 26 points in Game 1, was a minus-15. Meanwhile, Warriors big man Kevon Looney was 6-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds and finished a plus-24., tied for best on the Warriors. Again, Golden State controlled the paint.

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