2022 NBA Finals: Two things the Celtics need to correct to bounce back in Game 3 vs. the Warriors

After the Golden State Warriors completely outperformed Game Two of the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics will be looking to return for Game Three on Wednesday night. Fortunately for the Celtics, they have been flawless in doing this post-season. Boston is 6-0 after losing in these playoffs so far, and not only have they won, but they have covered the difference in each of those games.

Celtics All-Star striker Jayson Tatum, specifically, stepped up his game after losing Boston in the playoffs this year. In the six games played by the Celtics immediately after a loss, Tatum averaged 31.5 points per performance while shooting 50 percent from the floor — compared to 23.1 points at 39 percent shooting during losses.

The fact that the Celtics have been successful in responding to losses in the post-season tells you that they have been excellent at identifying – and employing – the necessary adjustments. Here’s a look at a couple of minor, but important, patches the Celtics need in Game 3.

1. Reduce rotation

The formula was too simple for the Celtics in these playoffs. When they take care of the ball, they win. When they don’t take care of the ball, they don’t win. They’re 12-2 (including seven straight wins) when they turn the ball less than 15 times. For example, they only made 12 spins in Match 1 against Golden State, and were able to take the win.

However, the Celtics are only 1-5 when they run the ball 15 or more times. In Game 2, they had 19 spins – including 15 for the live ball. These errors resulted in 33 Warriors turnover points, which was a major factor in the score. The Celtics know they have to be better at this area in Game 3 and beyond, but they don’t view it as a schematic problem, but rather an issue of mind.

“It’s kind of simple where we have to take care of the ball,” Tatum said after the second game. “We’ve done that, and we’re a really good team when we take care of the ball.” But we have those gaps where we, with a snowball effect, pile on the shifts and dig ourselves into a hole.”

Veteran big man Al Horford thinks the problem can be rectified.

Horford added: “In our wins, we didn’t change it; because of our losses, we flipped it excessively. It’s something we have to look at this match individually and just see how we can be better. … I know we can prevent a lot of those. And to have a chance Better to win, we have to cut back on those chances.”

Fifteen is the number to watch in Game 3. If Boston can keep its turnover below this limit, it will increase its chances of winning and advance 2-1 in the series.

2. Better performance in the third quarter

The third quarter hasn’t been nice with the Celtics so far this streak. In the first game, they outperformed 38-24 in the third inning, although they eventually managed to pull off a win behind an impressive performance in the fourth quarter. In Game 2, they outperformed 35-14 in the third quarter. In total, they outperformed by 35 points (73-38) in the third quarters combined.

The Warriors are a serious team in the third quarter, but Boston simply needs to be better in that setting. This problem isn’t just limited to this series, after all. The Celtics have outlasted 14 points at least four times in the third quarter in these playoffs, including the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. They were outdone by 25 points in the third quarter of that competition.

According to Tatum, shifts are part of the problem, as are lapses in defensive sharpness.

“I think tonight, the transitions, and I think sometimes letting our attack affect the way we defend, it was kind of a bit sluggish in the third quarter,” Tatum said of Game Two against Golden State. “I feel like it translated into the defensive end, and they started hitting kicks and things like that.”

Celtics coach Aimee Odoka seemed to agree with Tatum’s assessment. “This has been an ongoing topic in qualifying so far,” Odoka said of the poor performance in the fourth quarter.

“We turned the ball around,” he added. “Keep the teams away from scoring against us in the middle of the field, and give them some baskets.” “But it was more than the same in that third quarter. We had 11 to 18 points in that first half and we gave up another five or six points in that quarter.

With turnovers also a big factor in Boston’s third-quarter struggles, it looks like simply cutting them back could solve many of the problems that have plagued them so far in the post-season. Ball care should be a top priority for the Celtics heading into Game 3.

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