NBA Finals takeaways: Awful 3rd quarter, turnovers doom Celtics in Game 2 loss

Jayson Tatum

The Golden State Warriors showed their championship mettle in Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals with a comfortable 107-88 win over the Boston Celtics to even the series 1-1.

The Warriors led 52-50 at halftime and blew the game wide open with a historically good third quarter (more on that below). That run included several 3-pointers by Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who scored a game-high 29 points. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the night for the Warriors was Jordan Poole finding some confidence offensively with 17 points after a poor Game 1 performance.

The series now shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 at TD Garden, beginning Wednesday night.

But first, let's look at three takeaways from Game 2.

1) Another brutal third quarter dooms Celtics

The Celtics were outscored 38-24 in the third quarter of Game 1 and got away with it because they put together a historic 40-16 fourth quarter. 

Boston couldn't escape another horrible third quarter in Game 2. The Warriors outscored the Celtics by a 35-14 margin and pushed their lead to 23 entering the final 12 minutes.

A pair of 3-point shots by Jordan Poole in the final minute, including a 43-footer at the buzzer, put an exclamation point on a dominant quarter.

It's inexcusable for the Celtics to show such lackluster effort and execution at a critical juncture in the game. They trailed by only two at halftime. Everyone knows the Warriors are a great third quarter team. They've averaged 29 points in third quarters during the playoffs.


The Celtics have to play with more composure and defend better in the third quarter Wednesday night or they'll likely trail in this series for the first time.

2) Turnovers really hurt the Celtics

We've seen this time and time again from the Celtics in the 2022 playoffs. Whenever they turn the ball over a lot, it almost always results in a loss.

In fact, the C's are 0-5 when they turn the ball over 16 or more times in a game this postseason. They are 13-2 when they commit 15 or fewer turnovers.

The Celtics should've had a lead after the first quarter, but they allowed the Warriors to pull ahead 31-30 at the end because of their seven turnovers. 

Turnovers are more costly against the Warriors than most teams because they're so good in transition. Curry, for example, is a master at pulling up for a 3-pointer in the open floor while the defense isn't set.

The Celtics' 11 turnovers in the first half led to 18 points for the Warriors. Golden State finished with 33 points off Boston's 19 turnovers. The Warriors had a plus-18 edge in points off turnovers and they won by 19. These points swung the game in Golden State's favor.

3) No secondary scoring for Celtics

Jayson Tatum had one of his worst shooting games of the season in Game 1, hitting just three of his 17 attempts. The chances of Tatum rebounding with a strong performance Sunday night were pretty high. In the five previous instances where Tatum shot below 40 percent in this playoff run, he's averaged 31.8 points the next game. 

That trend mostly continued in Game 2 as Tatum came out firing with 21 first-half points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.

He finished with 28 points in 34 minutes as the Celtics pulled their starters early in the fourth quarter with the Warriors up by almost 30. 

The problem for the Celtics was, outside of Jaylen Brown, no one helped Tatum offensively. Brown started out hot, too, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. But he shot 1-of-11 the rest of the game and finished with 17 points.

The rest of the Celtics struggled mightily to score.

Al Horford had two points on 1-of-4 shooting after scoring 26 in Game 1. Marcus Smart scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Daniel Theis contributed zero points in 14 minutes. Robert Williams scored two points in 14 minutes. Celtics players not named Tatum combined to shoot 22-of-61. 

The Warriors are the highest-scoring team in the playoffs. Four or five players need to give the Celtics 10-plus points each game for Boston to compete with Golden State's offensive firepower.