SAN FRANCISCO — Jayson Tatum found his scoring touch after a rare poor shooting night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals but it was the rest of his Boston Celtics teammates who went missing.
Now instead of going home in control of the Finals, the Celtics will need to regroup following a 107-88 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night that evened the series at one game apiece.
“I don’t think we got as much penetration to the paint,” coach Ime Udoka said. “They switched a few more things. Then we turned the ball over and didn’t give ourselves a chance with a lot of those turnovers.”
Tatum bounced back from a 3-for-17 shooting performance in the opener to lead the way offensively for Boston with 28 points. But outside of a fast start by Jaylen Brown, he had no help and the Celtics had no answers.
Boston shot 37.5% overall and struggled all night to make anything inside the 3-point line. When the Celtics outside shooting went cold in the third quarter, the Warriors turned a close game into a rout with a 35-14 blitz.
Boston had five turnovers and four baskets in the crucial third quarter, leading to a 23-point deficit that was too much to try to overcome after the Celtics rallied from 12 points down after a bad third quarter to win the series opener.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” guard Derrick White said. “I mean, we’ve talk about it pretty much the whole postseason. It’s easy to talk about, but we’ve got to go out there and change something. That was a big quarter for them, and really a quarter that put us away.”
Udoka cleared the bench for much of the fourth quarter, giving his starters some needed rest after grinding their way through grueling, back-to-back seven-game series in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
If the Celtics are to rebound when the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 on Wednesday night, they will need some of Tatum’s supporting cast to play much more like they did in Game 1 than on Sunday.
Al Horford didn’t even take a shot in the first half after leading the Celtics with 26 points in the opener and finished with two points. He didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer after making six in Game 1.
“I feel like we didn’t move it enough on offense at times,” Horford said. “I think that for whatever reason, we got caught going downhill, attacking the basket a little more. They did a good job of staying with me, for example. Obviously I didn’t get an attempt, not even a look.
“So they did a good job making sure they took me away. I just have to find other ways to impact the game, and that’s something that I’ll do Game 3.”
After making five 3-pointers and scoring 21 points in Game 1, White missed 9 of 13 shots and was held to 12 points.
Brown made his first three shots and scored 13 points in the first quarter but went 1 for 11 the rest of the way. He struggled to find a rhythm after going to the bench following his second foul of the first quarter that Brown said was a “phantom” call.
Brown’s frustration led to a dust-up with Draymond Green after Brown got fouled on a 3-pointer in the second quarter.
“He tried to pull my pants down,” Brown said. “I don’t know what that’s about. But that’s what Draymond does. He’ll do anything it takes to win.”
Marcus Smart followed up a 7-for-11 shooting night in Game 1 by making just 1 of 6 on Sunday night.
Throw in 19 turnovers that turned into 33 points for the Warriors, and Tatum getting no help on the offensive end after if he was able to get going by making 6 of 9 3-point attempts.
“It’s just kind of as simple as we’ve just got to take care of the ball,” Tatum said. “We’ve done it, and we’re a really good team when we take care of the ball. But we have those lapses where we, snowball effect, we pile on turnovers and dig ourselves into a hole.”