Stephen Curry shines in Game 2 of the NBA Finals and provides the Warriors equaliser. Jordan Poole provides the highlight of the game.
An outstanding Stephen Curry led the Golden State Warriors to an equaliser in the NBA Finals.
The 34-year-old veteran scored 29 points in the unchallenged 107:88 home win against the Boston Celtics with German national basketball player Daniel Theis. This makes it 1-1 after two games of the best-of-seven series, four wins are needed to win the title.
“I said we have to play with passion. We did that today,” Curry said, “It feels good to be back on track.”
Curry is eyeing his fourth NBA championship ring, which would see him trump legends such as Boston’s franchise icons Larry Bird and Kevin McHale – and draw level with LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and Manu Ginobili, among others. The same achievement beckons his champion companions Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen have six (as do Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Cousy), unsurpassed is Boston’s monument Bill Russell with eleven titles.
Green and Brown clash
After game two, however, the talk surrounding Green is less about his potential fourth career title and more about his clash with Boston’s Jaylen Brown at the end of the second quarter.
Green fouled the Celtics guard on a three-point attempt and went down with him. “He had his legs on my head. I tried to get up,” Brown described the scene after the game, adding, “I don’t know what I should have done. He had his feet on my head and then tried to take my pants off.”
When he got up, there was an additional exchange of words, which is why the 25-year-old had to be restrained by team-mate Jayson Tatum. Afterwards, the referees and other players intervened between the two fighters.
“That was an illegal play,” Brown complained after the game, but the referees did not call a technical foul. For Brown, however, this action is representative of Green’s way of playing: “But that’s Draymond Green. He does everything to win. He pulls you, he holds you and he raises the intensity.”
Curry and co. exploit Boston Celtics’ Achilles’ heel
That intensity was necessary for Golden State, though. In the first game, the Warriors had given away a clear lead in the last quarter and were driven to despair by the outstanding centre Al Horford and the defensive ace Derrick White, who has been in top form in the playoffs – now they pulled off their dominant game until the end.
The decisive factor was the third quarter, which went clearly to the home side with 35:14. A weak start to the second half has been a consistent pattern for the Celtics in these playoffs: In total, Boston was 14 or more points weaker than its opponent in Round 3 four times, including in Game 1 against the Warriors – this time Boston never recovered.
“We’ve got to turn that off,” Horford cursed after the game ended, White also finding it “frustrating” that the problem haunts his team, “even though we’ve been talking about it all postseason now.”
Boston’s offensive and defensive weaknesses not only went hand in hand in this decisive phase, the Celtics committed a total of 21 turnovers and thus gave Golden State 33 points. Boston’s poor shooting percentage from two-point distance: 15 of 43 (34.8 per cent).
Poole provides highlight
Besides Curry, Jordan Poole (17 points), Andrew Wiggins (11), Kevon Looney (12) and Klay Thompson (11) also scored in double figures for Golden State. Poole was decisive towards the end of the third quarter when he first sank a three-pointer from about 9 metres – and then followed it up with a buzzer beater from the halfway line from about 12 metres. He was celebrated by Curry, whose speciality is three-pointers from long range.
Boston’s top star Jayson Tatum scored 28 points, Jaylen Brown 17.
Theis, who is the third German after Detlef Schrempf and Dirk Nowitzki to play for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, was on the floor for almost 15 minutes but didn’t make an impact. The former Bamberg player took only one shot – and he missed. The series now moves to Boston, where duels number three and four are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday.