New York- It’s that time of the year where legends are made, banners are raised and legacies are defined. The confetti reigns from the rafters in the month of June with the NBA Finals going down. In this year’s battle for the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, fans are given a premium matchup with the Golden State Warriors vs. the Boston Celtics. You got stars competing on both sides in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown clashing against the splash brothers in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. The series is all tied up, 1-1 with Game 3 set to tip off at 9:00pm ET tonight, Wednesday June 8th at TD Garden, located in Boston, Massachusetts. Celtics fans have come a long way for this moment. The NBA Finals returns to Boston tonight for the first time since 2010.
Final Score of Game 1 and Game 2 – Series Tied 1-1
Game 1: Celtics won 120-108
Game 2: Warriors won 107-88
This series contains a mix of elite offensive flow and defensive tenacity. The major factor in the first two games played were turnover margins as well as points in the paint. These categories set the tone for how Boston and Golden State shake out. Let’s take a look at the first two games with turnover margins and points in the paint.
Game 1: Celtics 12 – Warriors 14
Game 2: Celtics 18 – Warriors 12
Points in the Paint
Game 1: Celtics 34 pts – Warriors 26 pts
Game 2: Celtics 24 pts – Warriors 40 pts
Following the 107-88 Game 2 loss, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka stated during post-game “For us, that was a little disappointing, to give up 33 points off of 18 turnovers and that’s kind of been a constant theme in the playoffs. When that happens, we’re in trouble.”
With turnovers being such a significant factor in this matchup, the Celtics must minimize their mistakes to go up in the series. Udoka emphasized the turnover factor, “Turnovers started happening, led them back in the game, and the offense wasn’t as crisp with the ball movement and passing. Like I said 11 of our live ball turnovers, 9 of them out of steals. So we’ve got to be better in that category.”
Udoka within his first year as head coach has completely driven this Celtics regime into a successful winning path. With the resiliency this Celtics roster contains, you can bet Boston will come out firing throughout the 1st quarter tonight in Game 3 to set the tone early.
AL HORFORD – PUERTO PLATA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
During the offseason, Horford was deemed an aging player, who had little to none left in the tank. The 5x All-Star center proved his doubters wrong by becoming a key role in the Celtics reaching their first NBA Finals since 2010. Horford was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks with the 3rd overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft. Throughout his career, he has played with the Hawks (2007-2016), Celtics (2016-2019, 2021-), Philadelphia 76ers (2019-2020), and OKC Thunder (2020-2021). During this postseason run, Horford is averaging 12.1 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game on 51.2% shooting from the field.
Following the Celtics historic Game 7 win in Miami to advance to the NBA Finals, Horford said during the post-game: “I’m very grateful. I’m very excited. We’re here in Miami, really close to the DR. I know my family is happy. Everybody is happy, everybody is watching. The country was watching. I know everybody was there. They were sending me pictures, they were ready for this, and we’re enjoying this one.”
Horford set a league record for most postseason games played (141) before making an NBA Finals appearance. “A lot of hard work. I’ve been a part of a lot of great teams. A lot of great teammates and I’m so proud of this group,” Horford said. Paired with Robert Williams, Marcus Smart and Brown as defensive stoppers, Horford has been a perfect fit for the Celtics defensive strategies this season.
His teammate Jaylen Brown emphasized the impact Horford has on this Celtics group: “Nobody deserves it more than this guy. His energy, his demeanor coming in everyday, being a professional, taking care of his body, being a leader. I’m proud to be able to share this moment with a veteran, a mentor, a brother, a guy like Al Horford.”
STEPH CURRY STATISTICS IN 2022 NBA FINALS
Game 1: 34 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST, 12/25 FG, 7/14 3PT
Game 2: 29 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST, 9/21 FG, 5/12 3PT
Following the 107-88 Game 2 win, Curry stated “Offensively, we were a little bit more organized on what we were trying to do from the jump. They said we needed to play with desperation; that’s what we did. Good feeling to get back on track and now we gotta take it on the road.”
DYNASTY SHAPING UP IN THE BAY
Bay area fans are becoming comfortable with June basketball. By Golden State defeating the Dallas Mavericks (4-1) to win the 2022 Western Conference Finals, the Warriors are playing in their 6th NBA finals in the last eight years. The Warriors are the fourth franchise in NBA History to appear in 6 finals within an 8-year span.
Golden State Warriors (2015-2022)
Los Angeles Lakers
With the series tied at one-a-piece, Game 3 is set to tip off at 9:00pm ET tonight, Wednesday June 8th at TD Garden. Tune in on ABC Network.
Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports and NY Sports Day
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