NBA Finals: Warriors Clamp Down Defensively, Even Series With Game 2 Win

The Warriors played like the seasoned veterans that we expected to see in this series on Sunday night as they coasted to a series-tying victory over the Celtics.

Warriors 107, Celtics 88

Series: TIED 1-1

The Boston Celtics couldn’t miss during the fourth quarter on Thursday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. They scored 40 points en route to a come-from-behind victory over the Golden State Warriors, but last night, things weren’t as green for the Celtics. Boston turned the ball over and shot 36 percent from the field while posting their lowest points total in the NBA Playoffs. After hanging with the Warriors in the opening quarter by scoring 30 points, the Celtics scored 20, 14, and 24 in the final three quarters.

Despite being limited to 25 minutes by the training staff in his first game since fracturing his elbow on May 3, Gary Payton II was noticeable and effective in his return to action. His on-ball aggressiveness allowed the Warriors to switch more freely in Game 2. Payton spent time guarding Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Derrick White. White needed 13 shots to get his 12 points and shot just 30.8 percent. Tatum scored 28 points, but he did it on 42 percent from the floor.

Payton scored 7 points and logged 3 rebounds and 3 assists on 3-of-3 shooting, but his impact was felt beyond the box score as he helped Golden State stabilize and balance their defensive attack on the Celtics. With that fluidity back in play, the Warriors could shut down Jayson Tatum’s supporting cast, holding Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, and Al Horford to just two points a piece on 3-of-11 shooting (27.2 percent). Horford, who drilled eight three-pointers on Thursday night, didn’t even attempt one last night. Marcus Smart missed all three of his attempts from three-point range. Payton called his return to action “amazing,” and I think that Warriors fans would agree.

“It was amazing,” Payton said of returning to game action. “I was itching to get out there. I was in the tunnel just walking back and forth, pacing, waiting for Coach to call me. He kind of pump-faked me at first for a little bit, got me going. But after I got on the floor, I kind of calmed down and settled in.”

Draymond Green said that most couldn’t step up for their team like Payton did on Sunday night.

“Most guys can’t step up in that situation,” Draymond Green said. “But GP, he’s tough, and he’s built the right way, and he stepped up, and he gave us some good minutes tonight.”

Payton wasn’t alone in his efforts on Sunday night; the Warriors got contributions from the usual suspects. Stephen Curry paced the team in the scoring department with 29 points. Curry was joined by Kevon Looney (12), Andrew Wiggins (11), Klay Thompson (11), and Jordan Poole (17) as five Warriors finishing with double-digit scoring totals. Jordan Poole did most of his damage late in the game after an ineffective first half led to Steve Kerr pulling him from the rotation for the remainder of the second quarter and much of the third.

Poole helped the Warriors seal the game in the final 90 seconds of the third quarter upon returning to the rotation with a drive-and-kick assist, a deep triple from the wing, and then a 42-foot buzzer-beater. Poole’s long-distance buzzer-beater put the Dubs up by 23 points and ended Boston’s night.

Poole’s buzzer-beater was the exclamation point to Steph Curry’s 14 points in the third quarter that head coach Steve Kerr called “breathtaking” after the game.

“Steph was breathtaking in that quarter,” Kerr said. “Not just the shot-making but the defensive effort. He just doesn’t get enough credit for his level of conditioning, physicality, and defense. People go at him to try to wear him down because they know how important he is to us offensively, and it’s pretty dramatic the difference in Steph’s strength and physicality in his body now than from eight years ago when I first got here.”

The Warriors played the dominating brand of basketball for four quarters on Sunday night that you expect from a team that has been in the NBA Finals in six of the last eight years to even the series up with things shifting to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday night. Now it’s Ime Udoka and the Celtics’ turn to answer the Warriors’ latest adjustments.

Here are the highlights from last night’s game courtesy of NBA.com’s YouTube channel:

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

more bulls news

Whether the Front Office Wants to Admit it or Not, the Bulls are in a Rebuild

In another step away from the norm, the Chicago Bulls front office leaders themselves available to the media mid-way through the offseason. To be sure, it was still on their own terms. Several Bulls beat reporters shared on X a...

Is Lauri Markkanen Closer To An Extension Or Trade In Utah?

While it seems like the majority of the NBA's biggest offseason dominoes have fallen, one large one still remains. What will the Jazz do with Lauri Markkanen? Earlier this season it seemed like the Jazz certainly wanted to extend the...

Josh Giddey Had Some Very Fun Highlights in Solid Outing Against Team USA

On Wednesday afternoon, Chicago Bulls fans got a taste of what is coming to the United Center this October. Team Australia faced off against Team USA in an exhibition battle ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics. While the Boomers roster...

Matas Buzelis’ Epic Stare Down, Julian Phillips Struggles, Game 2 Highlights, and Other Bulls Bullets

I've seen enough – Matas Buzelis (aka Matas Bull-zelis) is here to save the Chicago Bulls. The next dynasty begins now. Reserve Grant Park for June ASAP. Summer League is Summer League. I recognize that the Bulls' No. 11 overall...

Matas Buzelis Gave Us More Reasons to be Excited with Big Game 2 at Summer League

Summer League basketball isn't supposed to be pretty, and the Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors reminded us of that on Sunday night. The second game of the Las Vegas circuit for Chicago came with plenty of clanked shots. The...

MATAS BUZELIS SUMMER LEAGUE POSTER DUNK ALERT!

It was only a matter of time before Matas Buzelis rocked the rim. The 19-year-old was constantly hunting the highlight jam during his time with the G-League Ignite. An explosive six-foot-nine leaper, it sure felt like he would have at...

A Fun Summer League Opener, Buzelis Flashes Versatility, Who Else Stood Out? And Other Bulls Bullets

After an impressive opening night, the Chicago Bulls' Summer League grind continues! Plan an espresso after dinner – we have some Hoops After Dark on the schedule. https://twitter.com/chicagobulls/status/1812472118170313142 All it took was roughly 5 minutes to feel satisfied with Matas...

Bulls’ Matas Buzelis Looked VERY Aggressive in His Summer League Debut

The Chicago Bulls' first Summer League outing was largely a success. Not only did the team walk away with a 96-89 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, but Matas Buzelis wasted no time pressing his foot down on the gas. The...

A Perfectly-Timed Matas Buzelis Block Leads to a Julian Phillips Dunk!

Matas Buzelis was ready to make a statement on Saturday afternoon. The Chicago Bulls' No. 11 overall pick wasted no time attacking the basket in his first-ever Summer League game. He went to the line for seven free throw attempts...

Angel Reese’s Amazing Double-Double Streak Comes To An End At 15

It took a quadruple-team effort late in the Sky's loss Saturday to the New York Liberty to snap Angel Reese's double-double streak. The rookie All-Star's streak came to a halt after and 8-point, 16-rebound performance in Chicago's 81-67 loss to...

Latest News

It Sounds Like Rome Odunze is Already Ahead of the Game

No, Rome Odunze — the Chicago Bears' other first-round pick — hasn't signed his contract just yet. But when he does put his pen to paper and signs on the dotted line, it sounds like the rookie receiger will be ready to...

Philadelphia Eagles Fantasy Team Names: Fly Into the 2024 Season with One of These Ideas

Calling all Eagles fans and fantasy fanatics! The nest is buzzing with anticipation, draft season is upon us, and it's time to claim your perch atop the league. Sure, a killer roster is crucial, but let's not forget the all-important...

Parry vs. Gadecki Prediction at the 32nd Palermo Ladies Open – Tuesday, July 16

On Tuesday, Diane Parry (No. 58 in the world) meets Olivia Gadecki (No. 168) in the Round of 32 at the 32nd Palermo Ladies Open.In this match against Gadecki (+145), Parry is the favorite with -189 odds.32nd Palermo Ladies Open...

Struff vs. Riedi Prediction at the Swiss Open Gstaad – Wednesday, July 17

On Wednesday, Leandro Riedi (No. 134 in the world) takes on Jan-Lennard Struff (No. 37) in the Round of 16 at the Swiss Open Gstaad.Struff carries -455 odds to defeat Riedi (+310).Swiss Open Gstaad InfoTournament: The Swiss Open GstaadRound: Round...

Varillas vs. Fognini Prediction at the Swiss Open Gstaad – Wednesday, July 17

In the Round of 16 at the Swiss Open Gstaad on Wednesday, Fabio Fognini (ranked No. 80) takes on Juan Pablo Varillas (No. 162).Fognini is getting -140 odds to secure a win versus Varillas (+110).Swiss Open Gstaad InfoTournament: The Swiss...

Swiss Open Gstaad Schedule Wednesday, July 17: Matchups & TV/Live Stream Info

There are two matches at the Swiss Open Gstaad on July 17, highlighted by No. 37-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff against No. 134 Leandro Riedi. The Tennis Channel provides live coverage and highlights of all the major moments across tournaments during Center...

Avanesyan vs. Masarova Prediction at the Hungarian Grand Prix – Wednesday, July 17

In the Hungarian Grand Prix Round of 16 on Wednesday, we have a matchup featuring No. 117-ranked Rebeka Masarova against No. 75 Elina Avanesyan.Avanesyan is favored (-250) in this matchup, compared to the underdog Masarova, who is +190.Hungarian Grand Prix...

WATCH: Devin Hester Unboxes His Hall of Fame Jacket

Devin Hester finally got the call to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. And in just a few weeks, Hester will be enshrined into Canton where his legacy will live on forever. But first, a teaser via the...

2024 Hall of Fame Open Betting Odds for Men’s Singles

Brandon Nakashima (+400) is the current favorite at the Hall of Fame Open, being held at International Tennis Hall of Fame. The event is entering the Round of 32.Watch live matches from Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and more tennis events...

2024 Nordea Open Betting Odds for Men’s Singles

Casper Ruud is the tournament favorite (+200) going into the Round of 32 at the Nordea Open, at Bastad Tennis Stadium in Båstad, Sweden.Watch live matches from Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and more tennis events on ESPN+.Favorites to Win the...

more bulls news