Full coverage: NBA 2022 Finals
BOSTON – It was in this period after Game 1 of the NBA Finals that, by the time Draymond Green returned from a two-month absence, the Golden State Warriors’ defense had not reached the level he was playing before Green lost to a back problem. . Games 4 and 5 of the conference finals, along with Game 1 of this series, were the Warriors’ worst three-game defense (123.8 points per 100 games) with Green in uniform this season.
And then came Game 2, when the Warriors held the Boston Celtics with just 88 points with 98 goals (89.8 per 100), Golden State’s best defensive performance since mid-January. The Celtics actually had 30 points in their first 24 possessions in the game, but from the end of the first ten minutes until they took their starting points out of the game at the beginning of the fourth, they scored just 34 points in a series of 52 possessions (* 65.4 per 100).
* In the regular season (1,230 games x 2 teams x 2 halves), there were only 11 cases where a team had a less effective first or second half than that. In these playoffs, the only time a team scored less than 65.4 per 100 in a half was the Suns (58.7 per 100) in the first half of the 7th game against Dallas.
Draymond Green apparently set the tone when he forced a ball jump in the first possession of the game and was menacingly defensive for almost all of his 35 minutes on the floor in game 2. But such defensive numbers do not come without contributions from everyone in the rotation.
1. The primary goals
Jordan Poole has allowed 1.32 points per possession individually in the playoffs, according to Synergy tracking. This is the worst score among 26 players who have defended at least 20 isolated possessions. Stephen Curry, meanwhile, has the third worst score (1.20).
Much of the Celtics ‘attack is to put Jason Tatum or Jalen Brown in action against one of their opponents’ defensive duties. And while Boston’s success in Game 1 was not primarily about the two stars scoring against the Warriors’ fewer (or smaller) defenders, those defenders were not easy targets in Game 2 either.
Late in the first quarter, Tatum set up a screen for Derrick White to take Poole over. But Tatum could not do much in the next post-up, losing a controversial jumper…
In the middle of the second half, Carrie passed to Brown, stayed in front and challenged a hard, step back 3 as the shooting clock ended…
After the 7-to-16 shot in the last six seconds of the game clock in Game 1, the Celtics were just 2-for-15 in late-clock situations in Game 2.
2. The new goal
After playing just 48 seconds of junk time in Game 1, Nemanja Bjelica took minutes of spin in Game 2, playing the first five minutes of both the second and fourth quarters. And that had him on the floor with Poole, a potentially dangerous situation for the Warriors’ defense. Prior to Sunday, Golden State had averaged 127.8 points per 100 yards in 73 minutes of playoffs with Poole and Belikas on the floor together.
But on Sunday, the Celtics scored just 14 points in 21 games (0.67 each) with Poole and Belika on the floor together. And Bjelica was definitely not a spectator in that regard.
In fact, with Bjelica’s first defensive possession of the game, it passed to Tatum. He almost turned him around from a bad crossover combination, but he was able to return to the front of Tatum’s drive and force one of the 15 live-ball images of the Celtics.
This was not the last of Bjelica’s defensive stances. A few possessions later, he fired a powerful shot from Tatum. And at the beginning of the fourth quarter, he did the same.
3. Help and recover
The Warriors do not leave their targeted defenders on an island. As clearly shown in the above example Tatum vs. Poole, shade themselves to these isolations, ready to help. The Celtics were able to take extra care in Game 1, but two things were different in Game 2…
1. The Warriors forced a ton of upsets by poaching when the Celtics drove…
2. The Warriors were better able to get back to the shooters after showing help.
Here, Klay Thompson shows help in a Tatum isolation against Bjelica, returns to White, stays in front of White’s drive and fights his runner…
The reversals were painful, but the Celtics also scored just 12-to-30 (40%) on Sunday. This was their third worst performance in color shooting this season.
The most memorable defensive possession in the career of Otto Porter Jr. it was not good. Playing for the Washington Wizards seven years ago, Porter was a long way off as Tony Snell moved to the other side of the floor. Marcin Gortat had to leave his man to claim Snell’s jump and Gortat’s man (Pau Gasol) scored an offensive rebound that sealed the victory for the Chicago Bulls. So it was more painful than the “Shaqtin ‘a Fool” section that would follow.
This will probably remain the most memorable defensive possession in Porter’s career. But he was a good defender for the Warriors and had some great moments on this edge of the pitch in Game 2.
Late in the second quarter, a move from Brown received basic help from Green, leaving Curry on the weak side with two Celtics. Al Horford made a dove from the left wing and Porter turned down from the top of the key to deflect Brown πά σα’s pass…
In the middle of the third quarter, the Celtics had an offensive difficulty when they had a chance to pass. But Porter returned and, after helping to stop Marcus Smart from riding the hoop, waited for Smart to be removed to Horford and took it from the other side.
Porter had five rebounds in less than 15 minutes in Game 2 and is now tied (with Green and Jrue Holiday) for fifth place in 36-minute rebounds (3.2) among the 57 players who have played at least 200 minutes in the playoffs. of.
5. The straw that mixes the drink
Green led the Warriors by eight points on Sunday. He is the star who mixes the drink and was in many places with many items in Game 2.
In the middle of the first, he helped in a Tatum iso match against Curry and then recovered to claim Brown’s 3 point effort in a corner…
At the beginning of the second, he completely drowned out a Brown isolation.
Green’s 0.60 points per possession allowed (with opponents shooting 4-to-20) is the best score among those 26 players who have defended at least 20 isos in the playoffs.
In Game 1, Green often stayed in the color, slowly shutting down Horford and White. In Game 2, he often defended the Celtics 30 feet from the basket…
With 1-0 in the Finals, the Warriors’ defense had to reach a level it had not seen in a few months. He did just that and the Celtics did not respond very well. They obviously did not pay attention to the ball and sometimes let the Warriors get off the hook by taking questionable jumpers instead of looking for better shots.
With the series now tied and with the need to protect the home advantage they gained by winning the 1st game, the Celtics will need a better response in Wednesday’s 3rd game (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
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John Schuhmann is a senior NBA.com analyst. You can send him an e-mail here, find his file here and follow him on Twitter.
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