BOSTON — The NBA Finals is down to a best-of-five, with the next two games in Boston. The Celtics have a golden opportunity to take control of the series back from the Warriors, but they know they have to change a few things up from Sunday night’s Game 2 loss in San Francisco.
For starters, the Celtics need to take much better care of the basketball.
“We are 0-5 when we have 16 or more turnovers,” head coach Ime Udoka said Tuesday. “So that tells the story.”
The Warriors don’t need any help with extra possessions. Boston’s first possession of the game ended with a bad pass by Marcus Smart, which quickly became an Andrew Wiggins three. That was just a preview of what was to come Sunday night.
Golden State scored 33 points off Boston’s 19 turnovers in Game 2, a big part of why the final score was so lopsided. For their part, the Celtics know why they’re turning it over so much — now they just need to break their bad habits.
“For the most part it’s usually the same thing: Spacing,” Jaylen Brown said Tuesday. “We’re on top of each other or we don’t move with purposeful actions. It allows them to guard us a lot easier than it should be. We need to be ready for what they do best and do what we do best. “
Udoka is always yelling at his players about playing in crowds too much. Players will drive into a wall of defenders, and either cough the ball up on the way or throw an errant pass. That has led to lots of fast break opportunities, and a lot of easy buckets for opponents.
It has to stop with a title on the line.
“We’re getting too deep in the paint and not seeing the kickouts, trying to force drop-offs and things like that,” Jayson Tatum said Tuesday. “Usually, there is always someone open. We’re just reiterating that in the film session. We have to be better at that tomorrow.”
In their seven losses this postseason, the Celtics have averaged 16.7 turnovers, which have turned into an average of 23 points for their opposition. In their last three losses, Boston has coughed up the ball an astounding 61 times. The Warriors and the Heat scored 88 points off those giveaways.
Overall, the Celtics are averaging 14.2 turnovers per game this postseason, which is in the bottom half of playoff teams. In their 13 victories, Boston is averaging just 12.8 turnovers. More important though is that the Celtics aren’t letting those turnovers turn into points, with those miscues leading to just 14.07 points for the team on the other side.
The Celtics are going to turn the ball over. It’s going to happen with their pass-happy offense and with Tatum (4.2 per game) and Brown (3.0 per game) handling the ball so much.
But they can’t have those turnovers turn into fast break points or easy threes for the Warriors. That is certain doom for any team at any point in the season, and it goes tenfold in the NBA Finals.
“If you could limit the turnovers you could limit a lot of those points. You don’t turn it over and you give yourselves a better chance to win,” Tatum said Tuesday. “It’s not rocket science.”