Road Warriors draw on experience as Finals move to Boston

Jun 7, 2022, 3:56 AM | Updated: 3:58 pm
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) reacts during the first half of Game 2 of basketball's NBA F...

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) reacts during the first half of Game 2 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco, Sunday, June 5, 2022. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

(AP Photo/John Hefti)

BOSTON (AP) — Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have no problem playing on the road. The Celtics, meanwhile, haven’t been lights-out in Boston during these playoffs.

As the NBA Finals shift to TD Garden for Wednesday’s Game 3 with the series tied at 1, the Celtics ought to have the advantage, but recent numbers suggest otherwise. Boston is 5-4 at home and 8-3 on the road this postseason.

The Warriors, meanwhile, have won at least one away game in 26 consecutive playoff series.

“We always know how to find a way to win games no matter what style it is, high scoring, low scoring, defensive battle, shootout, whatever it is,” Golden State guard Stephen Curry said. “We find another level of grit and determination, just an ability to find a way to get it done. Being in hostile environments, you get tested, you get pushed. Our experience kind of shows at the right time.”

The previous 39 times teams have split the first two games of the Finals, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the series 82.1% of the time (32-7).

“I think just our playoff experience, our guys understand the importance of making sure you don’t let your guard down in that first (road) playoff game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We know they’re going to bring a level of physicality that we brought last game. We got to be prepared for that.”

The Warriors rediscovered their defensive toughness in their Game 2 win, limiting Boston to a playoff-low 88 points. They also forced the Celtics into 19 turnovers. Boston is 1-5 in these playoffs when it’s had 16 turnovers or more; with 15 or fewer giveaways, the Celtics are 12-2.

“Unforced at times, but also over-penetrating. Have to have carryover and consistency in that area,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “That kind of tells a story.”

Boston guard Marcus Smart said the Celtics need to match the intensity of Golden State’s Draymond Green, who got into a pair of skirmishes — first with Grant Williams and then with Jaylen Brown — that seemed to fuel his team.

“You respond to fire with fire, right?” Smart said. “We’ve just got to turn around and do the same thing. If he’s going to come in here and try to be physical, this is our house and we’ve got to protect it.”

NO WORRIES

Klay Thompson doesn’t want anybody to worry about him.

The Warriors sharpshooter has struggled thus far this series, going 10 of 33 from the field and 4 of 15 from 3-point range.

But he trusts that his routine and history will shake him from his latest slump. That, and watching some of his old highlights.

“That’s the beauty of playing in today’s age. You can go on YouTube and look up all your great moments,” he said.

His searches of choice?

“Probably just YouTube ‘Game 6 Klay’ because there were some very high-pressurized situations I was in,” Thompson said. “I ended up shooting the ball well. When you can do it when your back is against the wall, you can do it at any given moment. It’s just about keeping that mental strong.”

INJURY UPDATES

Kerr said Andre Iguodala, who sat out Game 2 with inflammation in his right knee, is questionable for Game 3. Iguodala played 12 minutes in Game 1, his first time on the floor since the Warriors’ opening-round series against Denver.

For Boston, Robert Williams III is on track to play after Smart inadvertently fell into his surgically repaired left knee in the third quarter of Game 2. Williams has had to adjust his approach while playing just 10 weeks after surgery.

“Just adding a little more technique, a little more thinking to the game,” he said. “Obviously … with the injury that I have, not being as explosive as I normally am. A little more physicality, using my body a little bit more.”

___

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