SAN FRANCISCO – It was exactly the kind of release the fans at the Chase Center were seeking – for some reason that jumped out of their seats in a delirious celebration of this team that they believed was lost Game 1.
It happened at the end of the third quarter. Jordan Poole took a few steps past midcourt, pulled up and launched a 39-foot shot that swished through the net. Poole hopped back the other way on his left foot and raised both his eyebrows while seemingly every Golden State fan leaped to his feet and started screaming with joy and perhaps a little relief.
That shot gave the Warriors a 23-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and finished the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Golden State won, 107-88, to tie the series at one game each. Game 3 is Wednesday night in Boston.
The Celtics had a habit of playing well this postseason when they had to win and playing with less urgency when they could afford to lose. That worked for them in the first three rounds, but that meant their second- and third-round series each went to seven games.
Boston Coach Ime Udoka addressed that with his team before Game 2 of the finals.
“It’s time to be greedy and go for two,” Udoka said.
He also addressed Golden State’s penchant for making big third-quarter runs, a major problem for a Celtics team that had made a habit of third-quarter struggles this season.
In Game 1, Boston was able to overcome by 14 points in the third quarter because it dominated the fourth, outscoring Golden State 40-16.
In Game 2, Golden State didn’t allow a recovery. Instead that was when the dam broke.
The Warriors outscored the Celtics by 21 points in the third quarter on Sunday, and pushed them to 29 early in the fourth.
In Game 1, Stephen Curry unleashed a quick barrage of 3-pointers early, scoring 21 points in the first quarter. In Game 2, Curry remained threatening to the Celtics, and scored 29 points, 14 of them in the third quarter.
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum temporarily recovered from his Game 1 slump, but was eventually stymied in the third quarter.
Tatum shot 3 of 17 from the field in Game 1, and rebuffed suggestions that his shooting might have affected the rest of his game. As for moving beyond the one-game slump, he was confident he would be able to do that.
“You wouldn’t let it creep into your mind,” Tatum said before Saturday’s practice. “I can’t do anything about what happened last game.”
He responded by scoring 21 points in the first half of Game 2, making 7 of 16 shots. But he only took two shots from the field in the third quarter, despite playing all 12 minutes.
Al Horford, who led the Celtics with 26 points in Game 1, and blew a kiss to the Chase Center crowd when the game ended, took only four shots and scored 2 points in Game 2.
The Game was close early, and the Celtics even had a 9-point lead at one point in the first quarter. But Golden State never let Boston sustain any lead. With 21 points from Tatum and 15 from Jaylen Brown in the first half, Golden State led by 2 at halftime.
By early in the fourth quarter, the game was so well in hand that most of Golden State’s starters rested for at least some of the final frame.
Streamers and confetti fell from the rafters after time expired, and Curry, who sat for the fourth quarter, looked up at them briefly. He was sure that the series would return to San Francisco and last until at least a Game 5.