The Golden State Warriors salvaged one of the first two home games in the 2022 NBA Finals with a blowout win over the Boston Celtics Sunday evening.
Golden State continued its dominance in the third quarter, outscoring the Celtics by the margin of 35-14 in that stanza during Game 2.
Despite Boston’s blowout 19-point loss at the Chase Center, it heads into Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday evening maintaining home-court advantage. Can first-year head coach Ime Udoka and Co. keep that going? Perhaps, the Warriors will show their championship experience and retake homecourt.
Below, we provide four bold predictions for Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals set to take place Wednesday evening at TD Garden.
Boston Celtics open Game 3 of the NBA Finals with a bang
Boston actually lost two of its three home games in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. The common theme in those two losses were struggles in the first quarter. In fact, Miami outscored the Celtics by 28 points in the two games. That’s just not going to cut it against a better Warriors squad.
The expectation here is that Boston will feed off the energy of its rowdy fan base inside TD Garden and come out blazing. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Bown got it going in the opening stanza of Game 2, scoring a combined 26 points in the opening quarter. It wasn’t enough for Boston to even enjoy a lead after the first 12 minutes. Rotational changes could help the Celtics overcome these first quarter struggles.
This will obviously be key for Boston. If the Warriors are able to overcome what promises to be an intense start of the game and get their groove on, these Celtics will be in trouble. Udoka will stress that to the team, leading to a double-digit advantage through 12 minutes.
Andrew Wiggins to set the tone with uber aggressive first half
We’ve seen it throughout the NBA Playoffs. This first-time All-Star being super aggressive early on in games. It has coincided with potential NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry letting the game come to him for the most part. We’re talking both ends of the court for Wiggins.
There’s no reason to believe that this is going to change once Game 3 tips off. In our prediction above, we have Boston holding a double-digit lead through the first quarter. With Curry resting to open the second stanza, the expectation is that Wiggins will take it upon himself to pick up the scoring slack while keeping Golden State in this one.
- Andrew Wiggins stats (2022 NBA Finals): 15.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 44% shooting, 40% 3-point
Wiggins is averaging 13.5 shots per game through the first two outings of the NBA Finals. That’s down from his average of 14 during the regular season. With that said, Golden State continues to stress the importance of him being aggressive. It has come out in droves at points in the postseason. That won’t change come Game 3 with Wiggins dropping double-digit points in the second quarter.
Boston Celtics will try to match with small-ball lineup
Starting center Robert Williams played all of 4.5 minutes in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. He took an awkward hit from teammate Marcus Smart in the first half, leading to some scary moments for the elite defender. While the Celtics say that Williams is questionable with knee soreness heading into Game 3, Udoka stressed that he was OK.
At issue here for Boston has been Golden State’s ability to win the screen-and-roll game. It’s what got Stephen Curry started during the Warriors dominating third quarter performance Sunday evening. The team is going to continue going with this until Boston can somehow adjust.
Williams has struggled with this aspect of the game as Golden State goes back to the basics. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Celtics opt to go small-ball. With the rebound differential pretty much the same, it makes sense.
Perhaps, the Celtics opt for a lot more of Al Horford at the five (60 combined minutes in two games). They could also look to get Grant Williams going with him playing the three and Jayson Tatum at the four throughout the game. These are the adjustments Boston must make to win Wednesday evening.
Stephen Curry becomes NBA Finals MVP favorite with third quarter flurry
The dynastic Warriors that won three NBA titles in four years had one thing in common. Dominating third-quarter play.
It’s something we have seen come to the forefront over the first two games of the 2022 NBA Finals. During that span, Golden State has outscored Boston by 35 points in the 12 minutes coming out of halftime. For his part, Curry has been on a whole different level recently.
- Stephen Curry stats (2022 NBA Finals): 31.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 3.0 SPG, 46% shooting, 46% 3-point
The only thing really missing from Curry’s resume is an NBA Finals MVP award. Some thought that he should have won it in 2015. Either way, the three-time champion will come to play out of halftime at TD Garden Wednesday evening.
He’s dominated to the tune of averaging 38.5 points with 16 made three-pointers in his past two games in Boston. This stage just feels right to him. It will lead to another dominating third quarter performance and a Warriors 2-1 series lead.