ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Jordan Poole made a cannonball-type of splash in game two of the NBA Finals to help the Golden State Warriors boat race the Boston Celtics, 107-88, scoring 17 points with five three-pointers and two steals in the victory.
Poole had a stretch in the third quarter during which he seemed to rekindle his shot-making abilities after a poor game one, including a shot reminiscent of 2015 Stephen Curry, which exploded the Chase Center.
“I’m just continuing to play my game and make good shots,” said Poole.
The Celtics won game one in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors won game two in the third, as they outscored Boston, 35-14, punctuated by a ridiculous Poole three-pointer from almost half-court to extend their 23-point lead.
Poole’s 39-foot half-court heave was the third-longest three-point field goal in the last 25 NBA Finals, falling an inch behind the 40-foot shot-put by Mark Jackson in 2000 and Mario Chalmers in 2011.
“I want the ball at all of the ends of quarters and the shot clocks,” Poole said. “My teammates look for me, and I know I had my defender on his heels and having endless range, I guess.”
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says he believes in Poole’s abilities.
“Jordan is still a very young player who is still learning on the fly, but he’s had such a good season, and he’s talented and confident that I have a lot of faith that he will figure this out, and I think tonight he did a very good job of finding his way,” Kerr said.
Following a loss during the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors are 5-0, with a plus 15.4 points per game differential. They’ve improved to 9-1 at the Chase Center.
The Warrior’s third quarters are the NBA’s 31st team as they’re known for cooking out the half on fire.
They’re plus 35 in both third quarters in the finals so far.
“We just want to come out and deliver a punch right after halftime,” Poole said. “Everybody who plays basketball knows how important it is the first five minutes out the half, so we just try to embrace that and get it going.”
Poole’s performance throughout the postseason has opened many eyes to the former Michigan Wolverines guard, as many consider him not just a shooter, but a scorer too.
“Luckily, I’m in a position where I can just be aggressive,” Poole said. “My teammates and my coaching staff know that I can score at all four levels, whether it’s layups, floaters, midrange, or threes. “When I get going, it opens up a lot for other teammates. We got Steph Curry out there who is extremely ball-dominated, and we got Klay Thompson, who can get hot at any time, and we got Andrew Wiggins, so we have so many talented scorers.”
The Celtics scored 30 points in the first quarter, but then were held to just 58 points during the remainder of the game.
Curry said it was due to their defensive energy.
“We came out with the right defensive energy and approach,” said Curry. “Obviously, (Boston) they have a lot of scoring. We had to make it tough on them all night. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown got off to a decent start, but we made them take tough shots. Defensively, we were a little bit more organized in what we were trying to do from the jump, so we said we needed to play with desperation, which we did. Good feeling to get back on track, and now we got to take it on the road.”
Curry dropped 29 points on 9-21 shooting from the field while also going 5-12 from deep and 6-7 from the charity stripe.
“Our third was basically the same as game one,” Curry said. “We just got out to a better start defensively where we left an imprint on the game. They felt us a little bit more, and the other guys didn’t get off as much.”
During the third-quarter 35-14 onslaught, the Warriors shot 11-23 from the field and 7-12 from three. The Dubs held the Celtics to 4-17 and 2-8 from long range.
Curry scored 14 of a game-high 29 in the third.
“It’s a tough task,” Curry said. “These two guys (Tatum and Brown) create a lot for them, but if you can contain the other guys and just try to make it difficult, that carries over the rest of the game. Our third quarter was. We got enough separation which made the fourth quarter a little bit easier tonight.”
Some of the reasons why the Celtics could not come out with the same response as game one was due to former Michigan State Spartans forward Draymond Green getting in their heads.
Green was getting into it with Marcus Smart, Brown, Tatum, and Grant Williams, forcing them to turn the ball over 18 times, which is always a receipt for disaster.
“He was just being himself,” Curry said. “He was just finding a different way to impact the game on both ends of the floor. Sometimes it shows up in the stat sheet across the board, and sometimes he’s just fearless energy and its focus, and it’s passion. It gives us a lot of life. I know he took game one personally in terms of getting back to his standards, and it’s good to see.”
Green had nine points, seven assists, and five rebounds In game two.
“We knew we had to come out aggressive at the start of the game, make sure guys felt us, and then those shots later in the game are not so easy,” said Green. We can’t fall behind 2-0, and I know that all falls on me. Physicality is my department, and I have to make sure that I lead in that area, and then everyone else will follow, so I wanted to come out physical from the gate and make sure guys knew that that was the intensity and physicality level that we need to bee at in order to win in the NBA Finals. So, I just wanted to come out and lead by example to give the guys something to follow.”
Boston has not lost back-to-back games throughout the 2022 postseason, which is why the Warriors expect the Celtics to come out in game three the same way they did in game two.
On the road, the Celtics are 8-3, but they struggle at home, as they’re 4-5 in the Boston Garden.
Both teams showed that they could win on the opposing team’s floor throughout the playoffs, and from the looks of it, this series is just getting started.
Game three is Wednesday at 9 p.m. in Beantown. According to betting sites, the Celtics are 3.5-point favorites, but what are your thoughts?