After a promising start to the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics have struggled to create easy scoring chances in the last two games.
The Golden State Warriors appear to have figured out the code to limit the Celtics’ indoor scoring, particularly at the rim, which is impressive given its lack of rim protection. Sure, Brown has found success on offense, but very little has come around the basket, instead hitting catch-and-shoot jumpers or pulling up from the middle.
In a recent episode of Keyshawn, JWill and Max, Jay Williams discussed how the Warriors are making life so difficult for Boston’s two star players, pointing out how easy Golden State’s defense is and a major weakness on offense Reveals game of young duo .
“Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are exposed. Do you know, how? In games four and five, the Golden State Warriors shadowed Tatum and Brown’s right-hand drives. Because when they run right they go in your pocket, they’re so much more comfortable. Tatum goes to a patent spin move, he can get to work. Jaylen Brown makes his way to the basket. But if they go left, they’ve got them in the phone booth,” Williams said while discussing Boston’s subpar offense.
Aside from Kevon Looney and Draymond Green, Golden State doesn’t have any large bodies that can alter trajectories or force players to back out of their drives. Yet somehow, the Warriors have forced the Celtics into stagnant perimeter play, often highlighted by single-action pick and rolls that do not involve off-ball cutting or decoy action.
During his June 15 press conference, Boston head coach Ime Udoka credited the Warriors with unbalancing his team, noting that it limited their effectiveness as a unit on the offensive side of the court.
“I mentioned chasing, looking for fouls instead of going up to finish. Her rotations are pretty direct every time. The guy will be there. It’s all about reading. Credit to Green and what he did throwing guys off balance, faking and falling, taking away some lobs. For us, it’s really the physicality of our surfaces. I think we were out of balance and not up the most. Up close, we missed a few that we would normally do,” Udoka said.
While the entire Celtics team struggled to find their rhythm in the first five games of the NBA Finals, it was Tatum who suffered the most. In his first five games against Golden State, he shoots 50% at the rim, 28% at the short middle distance, and 21% at the long middle distance — his lowest postseason conversion rate. If the Celtics are to have a shot at lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy in the coming days, they’ll need their superstar wing to figure out how to attack the Warriors’ defense and generate some easy scoring chances for themselves.
The Celtics are in a difficult position going into June 16. To be crowned champions, they must win their next two games in a row – a single loss would end their season and Golden State would fly another banner.
The Celtics have been here before, however. In the second round of the playoffs, Boston was in almost the same position against the Milwaukee Bucks, the only difference being that game seven was played at the TD Garden – they won game seven and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“We fought three elimination games and won some games 7. But you can’t count on us being there. You have to do things well to start the game and not get behind the eight like in the last game. As confident as we are in the situations we’ve found ourselves in, we understand that Golden State is a well-trained, high-IQ team that won’t beat themselves.
You have to go out there and take it. For us, confidence is always because we’ve been through it. But we can help ourselves and play better offensively overall and not help them with the turnovers. All the same little things we talked about throughout the series,” Udoka told reporters on June 15.
Boston will need to harness the same energy it took to defeat the Bucks if they want to repeat history against a Warriors team that will go down in history as one of the greatest dynasties of all time — given the improvements we’ve seen have from Udoka’s team, if anyone could do it, it would be the Celtics.