The Golden State Warriors have responded. After blowing a 15-point, second-half lead to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals, the Western Conference champs kept their foot on the gas after halftime until their cushion reached 29 points. And they cruised to a 107-88 victory on Sunday.
Stephen Curry led the way with 29 points, while Jordan Poole rebounded from a rough Game 1 to score 17 points (5-for-9 on 3-pointers) off the bench. Though Golden State won each of the first two quarters, it was just a two-point game at halftime. But for the second straight game, the Warriors thumped the Celtics in the third quarter, and there was no comeback from Boston this time.
One stat stood out from the rest as the Warriors evened the series at 1-1.
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = % of available offensive rebounds obtained
15 — Live-ball turnovers from the Celtics.
That was their third-highest total of the season in 102 games. The Celtics committed 16 live-ball turnovers (recorded as steals for the opponent) in an October loss to Toronto and 19 live-ball turnovers in their loss to Miami in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. It was also tied for the third most live-ball turnovers that the Warriors have forced this season (100 games).
The Celtics had 19 total turnovers, with 79% of them being the live-ball variety. The league average for live-ball percentage is just 55%, and prior to Game 2, the Celtics were a tick below that mark. But they just couldn’t protect the ball on Sunday.
Of course, live-ball turnovers are much more damaging than dead-ball turnovers. When the Celtics committed those 15 miscues on Sunday, the Warriors scored 22 points (1.47 per) on the ensuing possessions, with 20 of those 22 coming directly off the turnover.
Jayson Tatum committed four of the live-ball turnovers, Marcus Smart committed three and three other Celtics — Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Derrick White — each committed two.
“We weren’t strong with the ball a lot,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “Searching for fouls instead of going up and making plays, especially with their lack of rim protection.
“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.”
Indeed, the Celtics are 1-5 when they’ve committed more than 15 total turnovers, including 0-4 since the start of the East finals, and 12-2 with seven straight wins when they’ve committed 15 or fewer. They’ve shot 46% from 3-point range in this series (up from just 35% in the conference finals), but can’t shoot if they’re not taking care of the ball.
Both in the regular season (14.0 vs. 13.8 per 100 possessions) and in the playoffs (16.3 vs. 13.6), the Celtics have actually had a higher turnover rate at home than they’ve had on the road. They were just 3-4 at TD Garden over the last two rounds, and this series now heads there for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday.
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