Watch CBS News

Jrue Holiday, Derrick White shined and other takeaways from Boston Celtics Game 2 win in NBA Finals

Celtics made "winning plays" in Game 2 of NBA Finals and are two wins from a title
Celtics made "winning plays" in Game 2 of NBA Finals and are two wins from a title 01:31

BOSTON -- Just about everyone on the Celtics is capable of making winning plays when the game is on the line. But it always seems like Derrick White and Jrue Holiday are right in the middle of the action, and both had their fingerprints all over Boston's Game 2 win over the Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

Holiday may be a point guard, but he punished the Mavericks underneath the basket all night on Sunday, playing an incredibly opportunistic offensive game for Boston. White came through offensively with a huge three as the shot clock expired in the fourth quarter, but he also had another incredible block at a crucial point in the game.

The Mavericks have an absurdly talented backcourt in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. But they've been no match for Boston's duo of Holiday and White. On Sunday, Doncic and Irving combined for 48 points on 39 shots. Holiday and White had 44 points for Boston, and needed just 29 attempts to hit that total.

With a 105-98 victory on Sunday night, the Celtics are now taking a  2-0 series lead to Dallas. Sweep dreams are still alive in Boston.

Of course, the Celtics are much, much more than their two guards. Here are all the takeaways from Boston's win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Was that Dallas' best shot?

As expected, the Mavericks came out firing in Game 2. They jumped out to a seven-point lead in the first quarter as Luka hit pretty much everything while the Celtics couldn't buy a shot from downtown, going 1-for-9 from three-point land in the quarter. Yet the Celtics trailed by just three points after 12 minutes, despite the fact that Doncic and Irving combined for 21 points and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for two points in the quarter.

The Celtics never let thing get out of control, and eventually they took control. Boston led by halftime after Holiday scored 11 of his 17 first-half points in the second quarter. The Celtics started making Doncic and Irving work for everything, and the Dallas supporting cast wasn't up to the task on Sunday night.

It felt like Game 2 was Dallas' best shot to make this a series, and they had a great chance to steal a game in Boston as the Celtics struggled from downtown all night.

Alas, it wasn't enough. The Celtics are completely locked in right now, making plays they have to when it matters.

Derrick White keeps making plays

Derrick White came through again and re-defined "the biggest block of his career," rejecting P.J. Washington's fast break dunk attempt that would have made it a three-point game with less than a minute left.

It was an absolute killer of a play. It stopped a 9-0 run by Dallas, as Brown made a driving layup on the other end to push Boston's lead back to nine points. Had White not blocked that shot, things may have been much different down the stretch.

White tried for a chase-down block earlier in the game but that ended with him getting dunked on. But he's never going to turn down a chance to make a game-saving rejection.

"That's why I got dunked on earlier, but it's part of the game. I think being not afraid to get dunked on allows me to get some that maybe some other people wouldn't have gotten," he said. "So just trying to make a play, just believing in my abilities and what I can do."

White also drained a pair of threes in the fourth -- including one as the shot clock was expiring to push Boston's lead to 10 -- and finished with 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two blocks.

Jrue Holiday - "Utility Guy"

After leading the way with 26 points, Holiday was asked what his role is on this star-studded Boston roster.

"Utility guy. I do whatever," he said. "I'm here to win." 

On Sunday, the Celtics needed Holiday to score as Tatum and Brown struggled to find their shots early. Tatum was met with double teams nearly every time he got his hands on the ball, and Brown received loads of defensive attention as well. Holiday was there to take full advantage.

Holiday used all the real estate that Dallas gave him to make cut after cut after cut to the hoop, and he never missed on those chances. He was a perfect 9-for-9 in the paint in Game 2. Credit to Tatum and Brown for finding him all those times, but credit to Holiday for getting to the basket and finishing around the rim.

"They wanted to emphasize loading up, making us make the right reads over and over again, and Jrue had a lot of opportunities tonight and he took advantage," Brown said of his teammate. "He's just a hell of a player, hell of a person, great teammate. I credit the victory to him tonight."

Holiday was 11-for-14 overall and also had 11 rebounds (four off the offensive glass) and three assists. 

Celtics won without hitting threes

The Celtics still took plenty of threes -- 39 of them -- but they hit very few of them. Boston made just 10 of their triples, hitting 25.6 percent of their attempts in Game 2.

The Celtics missed their first eight threes and didn't hit from downtown until Al Horford drained a corner three with five seconds left in the first quarter. They had just three threes in the first half. 

Usually, that would doom the Celtics. Not on Sunday, thanks largely to Holiday's nose for the basket. And the deep shots started falling in the fourth quarter, when the Celtics hit four of nine.

But it was nice to see them win a game when they struggled from downtown.

Celtics' ball movement was on point

The ball was zipping around when Boston was on offense, and it led to some real clean looks throughout. The Celtics dished out 29 assists on 38 made buckets, with Tatum leading the way with 12 helpers.

Tatum spent much of the night doubled or with a wall of Mavericks players in front of him. But he didn't force the issue too much and made the right find -- usually Holiday cutting to the hoop. He took what the Mavs' defense was giving him and made them pay. Brown also had seven assists to go with his 21 points.

Tatum downplayed his passing after the win, making it sound like the Mavs made it somewhat easy for him to become a facilitator.

"I mean, every time I'd take a couple dribbles, there was, like, three people were right there. So we got a bunch of shooters on our team and guys that can space the floor. They kept leaving Jrue open. So it wasn't like I had to do anything spectacular," he said. "It was just about finding the open guy."

When the Celtics started hitting threes in the fourth, it was mostly because the ball had touched three other sets of hands before someone put up a shot. The Celtics recorded five assists on eight makes in the final quarter. 

Celtics survived a "Luka Game" (for three quarters)

Doncic wasn't at full speed or strength with a chest injury that had him questionable before game time, but he still made a ton of shots for Dallas -- at least through three quarters.

Doncic didn't try to drive by anyone early in the game and settled for stepbacks and threes. And for a while, it worked.

Doncic went 12-for-21 for a game-high 32 points to go with 11 rebounds and 11 assists. But he had 29 points heading into the fourth quarter, and then hit just one of his six shots in the fourth -- a driving layup for a three-point play to make it a five-point game just before White blocked Washington.  

Who knows what Luka would have done had the Mavs gotten to within three points. But the Celtics made him work in the fourth quarter and he started forcing (and missing) his shots.

Kyrie is out of it

Irving had 16 points on 7-for-18 shooting in Game 2, after he went 6-for-19 in Game 1. He missed all three of his three-point attempts, and scored just four points in the fourth quarter.

Basically, the Mavericks aren't getting anything out of Irving this series. If Kyrie doesn't step it up, Doncic is going to have to take (and make) 30 or more shots for the Mavs to have a chance.   

Payton Pritchard has got the range

Payton Pritchard checked himself into the game in the final seconds of the third quarter just to do this:

That shot turned a six-point, slightly uncomfortable lead into a nine-point edge for Boston.

Pritchard's shot -- and willingness to take it -- earned him some praise from Mazzulla after the game.

"I think the play of the game can't go unnoticed, the humility of our team, is Payton's shot at the end of the quarter. You see guys around the league pass up on that shot or fake like they want to take it, so that their numbers don't get messed up. He takes pride in taking that, and that's winning basketball," Mazzulla said of his reserve guard.

The Boston defense is locked in

The Mavericks scored 28 points in the first quarter. That is the only quarter this series that they've scored 25 or more points. 

Boston forced seven Dallas turnovers in the second half on Sunday and scored 10 points off those miscues. Overall, the Celtics scored 15 points off 21 Mavericks turnovers on the night.

Now we'll see what the Celtics can do in Dallas, with Game 3 set for Wednesday night at American Airlines Center. Boston is a perfect 6-0 on the road this postseason.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.