Warriors Third Quarter Dominance Could Prove Costly for Celtics in NBA Finals

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates a made 3-pointer in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry celebrates a made 3-pointer in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Despite losing Game 2 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors in blowout fashion, the Boston Celtics and their fans have plenty of reasons to puff their chests out heading into Game 3 tonight.

The Celtics stole back home court advantage with a stunning Game 1 comeback victory; outscoring the normally 4th quarter dominant Warriors 40-16 in the final 12 minutes, handing Golden State their first home playoff loss this year.

After opening the series as +125 underdogs, the Celtics are now slight favorites at WynnBET Sportsbook to take the NBA Finals from the Warriors at -115 odds. They're also favored by 3.5 points this evening against the spread at home with moneyline odds of -170 to win outright.

Despite the positive momentum for Boston, they've also highlighted a glaring weakness in the first two games that could prove to be problematic not just for them, but for Celtics bettors as well.

The Warriors Have Destroyed the Celtics in the Third Quarter in the NBA Finals

Whatever "Secret Stuff" the Warriors are guzzling at halftime to turn into a whole new 3rd quarter team, they'll take it.

Golden State has outscored the Celtics by 35 points (73-38) in the 3rd quarter, limiting Boston to an average of just 19 points per quarter in the first two games while putting up 37.5 themselves.

Boston may have the series tied, but their issues in the third quarter highlight a trend that does not bode well for their Finals chances.

Going back eight of the last 10 seasons, the team that's outscored their opponent in the third quarter in points per game has gone on to win the NBA Finals.

Teams That Win the 3rd Quarter Have Won the NBA Finals Seven Years in a Row

Here's how the last 10 NBA Finals have gone down based on third quarter scoring.

NBA Finals 3rd Quarter Points Per Game (BOLD indicates NBA Finals winners)

  • 2021: Bucks: 32.2 | Suns: 31.2
  • 2020: Lakers: 27.3 | Heat: 26.4
  • 2019: Raptors: 28.5 | Warriors: 28.5
  • 2018: Warriors: 28.8 | Cavaliers: 23.0
  • 2017: Warriors: 29.0 | Cavaliers: 27.8
  • 2016: Cavaliers: 27.0 | Warriors: 26.4
  • 2015: Warriors: 21.5 | Cavaliers: 21.3
  • 2014: Spurs: 25.2 | Heat: 25.4
  • 2013: Heat: 23.7 | Spurs: 24.7
  • 2012: Heat: 26.6 | Thunder 24.0

Only the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and the Miami Heat in 2013 have gone on to win the NBA Finals in the previous 10 years without having a scoring edge in the third quarter of the series.

This isn't just a small sample size either. Via NBA.com, the Warriors own a net rating of +9.5 in the third quarter this postseason. The Celtics are -7.6.

Boston finished the regular season with the league's best defensive rating by a wide margin in the final four-plus months of the season. If they're to survive this series, they'll need to start slowing down Golden State after halftime to give themselves a chance.

Follow Ben Heisler's betting picks in real-time at BetStamp HERE.