Boston’s Offense is the key to Game 3

After the Boston Celtics took game one with an impressive fourth quarter, the Golden State Warriors responded in game two. 

The Warriors were the more physical team, even too physical at times. On the very first play of the game when the ball was swung to Al Horford, Draymond Green got right into his body and forced a jump ball. 

Golden State got going from there, in particular Stephen Curry who dropped 29 points going 5-12 from three in just 32 minutes. His presence on the court caused problems for the Celtics’ defense. A great example of Curry’s gravity came on a play when he cut through the lane and two Celtics went with him while Green found Kevon Looney for a bucket. 

he Warriors blew the game open in the third quarter. They held the Celtics to just 14 points while dropping 35 points of their own. Ime Udoka made a smart decision to pull the plug early in the fourth quarter to rest his players and get ready for the next one. 

With the series tied at one apiece and the scene shifting to Boston it is time to look at what the Celtics need to do to defend home court in game three.  

The Celtics’ Offense

Boston’s offense can be a difficult one to analyze at times. With top talents like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, it is expected to feature some one-on-one. When they are making shots it looks incredible but when those shots do not go down it is a problem. 

Brown’s explosion in the first quarter and Tatum’s entire half is what the Celtics offense looks like when it is pretty one-on-one based and they are hitting shots. Brown got the Celtics rolling going 4-6 from the field and 3-4 from three for 13 points. 

Tatum was on fire in the first half with 21 points, 15 of those coming from the three-point line. He had everything going, especially his side-step threes. Tatum hit one on Curry and a second on Andrew Wiggins in early offense. These are not bad shots. they have become a go-to shot for Tatum. But they are not great shots. 

Brown started to cool off after the first quarter and never got back on track. He went 1-11 for the rest of the game and Green locked him up. 

The second half was not kind to Tatum either, as the Warriors ramped up their defensive intensity on him. They denied him catches, forced him to play on the perimeter by showing more help and just took the ball out of his hands

The Celtics need more possessions with both ball and player movement, like this one. They get the ball into the paint early, a kick-out and then a swing to Brown for the open three. This play puts more pressure on the Warriors defense. 

The shot profile from those two players actually highlights a much larger problem for the Celtics. They are not getting enough shots at the rim. According to Cleaning the Glass, Boston has taken just 11 field goals and drew seven fouls at the rim*. Three shots and two fouls were called at the rim in game two alone. Compare that with the 30 shots and 10 fouls drawn at the rim in the two regular season games this season against Golden State. 

Boston has lived by the three through the playoffs. 45.7 percent of their shot attempts have been threes. That number has climbed to 47.1 percent in the Finals. Now to be fair, the Celtics are shooting three-ball incredibly well at 46.2 percent from three. 

But you know the the old adage: live by the three, die by the three. In the second half of game two Boston shot 27.8 percent from three. There will be another game that Boston won’t be able to buy a three, and they will have to find a way to get more shots at the rim. 

Getting more ball movement will open up more opportunities for the Celtics at the rim. 

The possession below is a great example. In early offense the Celtics got the ball to Grant Williams in the post, he swung it to Derrick White in the opposite corner who hit Marcus Smart who drove into the paint, finding Williams in the dunker spot for one of the few buckets at the rim the Celtics got in game two.

As for the second adjustment, the Celtics’ have to cut down on their turnovers and in particular their live-ball turnovers. They had 19 turnovers in game two, 15 of them were live-ball turnovers. The challenge about those live turnovers, it allows the opponents to attack in transition and early offense. The Warriors finished game two with 33 points off turnovers. This has been a problem all playoffs long for Boston. They have led all playoff teams in live-ball turnovers and it has crushed them in those games.

Boston needs to get their offense back on the tracks, running more sets for more movement, try to get more attempts at the rim, and most importantly take care of the ball in game three to take the first game in Boston. 

*Cleaning the Glass numbers exclude garbage time and halfcourt heaves. 

Mo Dakhil spent six years with the Los Angeles Clippers and two years with the San Antonio Spurs as a video coordinator, as well as three years with the Australian men’s national team. Follow him on Twitter, @MoDakhil_NBA

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