After a measly 5-4 record at home in the 2022 NBA playoffs, the Boston Celtics reclaimed home dominance with a 116-100 win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 53 points, and the Celtics attacked the paint ferociously on their way to victory. Boston drew 24 fouls from Golden State and shot 24 free throws last night, which led to a much easier offensive game plan for Ime Udoka.
Physicality and dominance inside was a huge focus for Udoka and the Celtics heading into Game 3, and the Warriors were not able to handle it.
"We matched their physicality and intensity better than last game. We didn't like the way we wilted last game, so that was a big focus the last couple of days,” said Udoka. "We want to try to impose our will and our size in this series...when we get nights like this from him [Robert Williams] and Al it obviously pays dividends for us."
The Warriors were out-rebounded 47-31, and were specifically dominated on the offensive glass. Al Horford and Robert Williams were willing and able to impose their will on the Warriors in the paint, on both ends of the floor.
Even with size being an issue, the biggest deterrence for the Warriors was the offensive absence of Draymond Green. Some of the best Golden State basketball is played when Green is willing to attack the basket and be at least a distant thought on the offensive end.
Unfortunately for Golden State, Green was unwilling to shoot the ball and was not particularly effective in any other statistical category either. While his defensive impact is always important, Green has to do more on the offensive end for the Warriors to win NBA Finals games.
“I just think I never found a rhythm, on both sides of the floor. There wasn’t enough force, and I just have to find my rhythm quicker for us to win,” said Green.
Steph Curry did all he could to keep Golden State in the game, but even ridiculous plays like this 4 point play were not enough to keep the Dubs rolling.
Ultimately, the Celtics outscored the Warriors and did a better job taking care of the ball. A few late turnovers from Steph Curry kept the Celtics ahead and running in transition. After scoring 29 in the first three quarters, Curry was held to just four shot attempts and one made field goal in the fourth.
Tatum, Brown and Marcus Smart were only the second duo in NBA Finals history to all record a 20 point, 5 rebound and 5 assist game in an NBA Finals game since Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Kooper did it in 1984. The Celtics trio is the only trio to ever do it twice in one NBA Playoffs. Asked about what that company meant, Tatum had quite the response.
“Well, I was born in 1998, so.”
The Warriors will look to rebound from a tough loss and even the series up before heading back to Golden State. Pay close attention to the health of Curry’s left ankle moving forward, as his mobility will be paramount to a Game 4 Golden State victory.