Game 2 of the two series for the NBA Final Four are now in the bag and things are looking very interesting in both matchups.
After blowout wins for the Heat and Warriors in Game 1, Game 2 took on key significance for the teams, especially those that had lost the opener.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, plus the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors will now understand far more about what is required as we head into Game 3 in each series, which will be played over the weekend.
Let’s now take a look at how both game 2 in each series turned out, starting with Thursday night’s Game 2 between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
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Celtics Welcome Back Horford And Smart Ahead Of Key Win Over Miami
In the first game between these two teams, the Boston Celtics outscored the Miami
Heat in three of the four quarters, but still went down to a heavy defeat after a third-quarter meltdown.
However, after the return of Al Horford and Marcus Smart proved decisive, as did an early first quarter change, as the Celtics levelled the series with the Heat with a dominant 127-102 victory over Miami in Florida.
The first quarter began worryingly slowly for the Celtics who trailed the Heat after the first five minutes of the game.
However, coach Ime Udoka had a simple message for his team “Wake Up!’.
He also made a key tactical change, taking off the struggling Robert Williams and replacing him with Grant Williams.
That Williams for Williams swap made a huge difference as from then on the Celtics were a team transformed.
First Half Fightback
From losing to the Heat, the Celtics then went on an incredible run outscoring Miami by 30 points in the rest of the half to open up a commanding 70-45 lead over their hosts.
Unlike the first game, there was to be no third quarter meltdown for the Celtics who kept piling on the points in the second half and not even some late Jimmy Butler heroics could help Miami close the gap as the Celtics won the game 127-102.
The influence of Horford and Smart was immediately felt, with the Celtics two returning players improving the Boston team on both defense and offense but it was the introduction of Grant Williams that truly lit the fuse on this big Boston win.
There’s little doubt that he has played himself into the team ahead of the third game of the series coming up at the weekend in Boston.
Jayson Tatum led the scoring for Boston with 27 points and it was the dominant manner of the victory that stunned Heat fans.
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo summed up what happened after five minutes of the first quarter very succinctly when he stated:
“They came out and hit us in the mouth, and we didn’t know how to respond,” he summarized.
Game 3 takes place on Saturday Night in Boston and the Celtics now know if they can win their home games, they will be competing for the NBA Championship once again.
But there is a long, long way to go in this series still.
BetMGM Sportsbook now has the Celtics at 2/1 to win the Finals, with the Heat now 9/2.
Warriors Extend Lead With Comeback Victory Over Mavericks
The Golden State Warriors now lead the Dallas Mavericks 2-0 after the second game in
the series between the two ended in a 126-117 victory for the home court Warriors.
Yet, it could all have been so, so different had the Mavericks been able to continue their incredible start to the game that saw them lead comfortably at the interval.
In a stunning start, the Mavericks hit a total of 15 3-pointers and saw starting guards Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic both score 20 or more points in the first half of the game.
That feat has only been achieved once in the past 25 years of the NBA Playoffs by any team.
With their two guards leading the way, Dallas hit 72 points in the first half and led by 14 at the interval with the Warriors amassing just 58.
In truth, the Warriors did well in that first half to keep on the coattails of the Mavericks with Kevon Looney enjoying a solid game and coach Steve Kerr told his team at half time that the game was far from lost.
“I told them that if we developed some poise in the second half, the game would come to us…We felt confident that if we they wouldn’t make 15 three’s in the second half.” He said after the game.
He was absolutely right as after the half the Warriors came out a different team.
Looney Leads Key Contributors In Second Half Fightback
Big center Kevon Looney had arguably his best game of the playoffs for the Warriors, scoring 21 points and landing 12 rebounds in a fine performance.
He was ably assisted by Steph Curry who landed 32 points, while Jordan Poole (23), Andrew Wiggins (16), Klay Thompson (15) and Otto Porter Jr (11) all made valuable contributions.
Luka Doncic top scored in the game with 41 points and Jalen Brunson added 31, but the Dallas performance tailed off after the half time break with the Warriors outscoring them 68 to 45 to claim the victory.
The series now heads to Dallas for the next two games, starting Sunday, and the Mavericks will know that two wins on their home court are going to be vital if they are to get themselves back into the series.
Last night’s win for the Warriors has seen their odds shorten to 19/20 to win the NBA Championship, while the Mavericks have drifted out to 18/1 on the back of that second series loss.