Going into Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals, things looked pretty evenly matched between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics looked like the somewhat better team in terms of being able to get things done in the paint, but the Warriors had an edge with their perimeter play, 3-point shooting, and ability to get things done on the fast break.
But in Game 3, a significant storyline emerged in favor of the Celtics.
They dominated the Warriors on the boards, out-rebounding them by 16 and grabbing 15 offensive boards, and they also scored twice as many points in the paint.
For much of the game, the Celtics’ superior size near the basket was impossible to ignore or downplay.
Im not kidding when i say this might have been the most pathetic rebounding effort I’ve seen from a team in a single game from the Warriors tonight. The Celtics WANT IT MORE. SIMPLE. #NbaFinals
— Nic Bakker (@nicbakker_) June 9, 2022
It all added up to a 116-100 Boston victory and 2-1 series lead.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will need to address this problem, otherwise, his team could be extinct less than a week from now.
The Warriors’ Lineup Is Too Small
The presence of Williams, in particular, has been invaluable for the Celtics throughout the playoffs.
In 26 minutes on Wednesday, he had 10 rebounds, four blocked shots, and three steals.
Meanwhile, Green, who is usually a catalyst for Golden State, had a very underwhelming outing, posting just two points and four rebounds.
In some ways, the Warriors played well enough to win.
Golden State also had 18 fast-break points, which may not be that great, but it was good enough to give them a chance to win.
But the rebounding differential was way too much to overcome, as it led to lots of second-chance points for Boston.
Rebounding Is The Most Critical Problem For Golden State Right Now
Yes, the Warriors also need better interior defense, and they also need to limit their turnovers (they gave the ball away 16 times on Wednesday).
But if they simply fix the rebounding disparity, and nothing else changes, that could single-handedly get them a win in Game 4.
It’s simple, the Celtics rebounding is the difference. Either the warriors find a solution or try to fix that issue as much as possible or the Celtics will continue to have extra possessions which always is a big help in winning or losing. #NBAFinals
— hassan rahim (@rahimthedream4) June 9, 2022
Golden State had a couple of spurts in Game 3 in which it looked like it was starting to turn the tide, but each time it did so, the Celtics were able to stop its momentum with their offensive rebounding and relentless attack of the rim offensively.
At this point, coach Kerr may also want to consider a lineup tweak.
Nemanja Bjelica, a 6-foot-10 big man, got just three minutes on Wednesday, and his only contribution on the stat sheet was one assist.
During the regular season, he played 16.1 minutes a game and averaged 4.1 boards a game.
In fact, he was tied for second on the team with 9.3 rebounds per 36 minutes in the regular season.
Bjelica is also a good 3-point shooter, and therefore there is the potential that if he gets more playing time and performs well, he could help swing this series in the Warriors’ favor.