Coming back home after a three-game road trip, the Boston Celtics had two days before it would stare down the team that denied it immortality just a few months ago. Due to the fact that this was the first time Golden State returned to the TD Garden since it hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy, this contest had the potential to live up to a playoff-type atmosphere in the middle of January. Both ball clubs did not disappoint with the two producing an overtime thriller on national television.
Despite Jaylen Brown struggling significantly from the field in his first game back from injury, and the Cs giving the ball away 17 times for just the second time since early December, Joe Mazzulla’s squad dug deep and found a way to win. That is what good teams do. Against a ball club filled with pace, and lethal shooting ability like Golden State, Boston demonstrated its relentlessness, and mental toughness to pull out a game that last season it would without question not have been able to.
After Donte DiVincenzo knocked down a vital three to extend the Warriors’ lead to nine, the Celtics could have very well chalked up this game as a loss with the way their stars were shooting the basketball. Instead, the Cs used their size advantage, and with the help of Brown coming alive late in the fourth, Boston was able to grind out a statement triumph shooting under 40% from the field and 32% from the 3-point line.
Jayson Tatum shot under 34% from the field for the second time this season against the reigning champions. Boston’s MVP candidate not only had one of his worst shooting nights of the season, but he also gave away the ball seven times in just the second game so far this regular season. Many careless passes by Brown, Tatum and Marcus Smart in many points down the stretch nearly cost the Cs chances at extending their winning streak to eight games. Tatum even had back-to-back turnovers with under 1:15 to play in the final 12 minutes, but just like this team has done all year, they picked each other up.
The headlines around the NBA world were already written when Klay Thompson found a way to finish over Al Horford’s extended arm to bring the Warriors’ lead to four with under two minutes to play. With a 5-16 road record this season, this victory for Steve Kerr and the Warriors would have been a massive confidence boost for them going forward. On the contrary, Golden State suffers a gut-punching loss, moving back to under .500 with a trip to face a quality Cleveland team on tap on a second night of a back-to-back.
Having been 1-3 in overtime contests so far this season, it was time for the Boston Celtics not only to remove that narrative surrounding them and the Warriors but an opportunity on a national stage to show this is a ball club that can execute down the stretch in a close game. Boston has not had a game decided by three points or fewer since December 18 against the Magic. It was the worst the Celtics have shot the ball since that very game at the Garden in December, but with their squad at full-strength this time around, the excuses were thrown out the window.
Brown and Horford had not made a 3-pointer all game, but when it mattered the most in those clutch minutes, the two of them saved Boston with two enormous shots that would help the team pull off the comeback. Robert Williams III’s inside presence, along with Horford, and Malcolm Brogdon got things going until Boston’s two superstars took control of the game at a time when the team needed them the most.
The Boston Celtics won ugly against the Golden State Warriors
The bottom line is this was far below the standards this team sets for itself. Costly turnovers, and shooting under 74% from the charity stripe are two controllables that Boston failed to take care of. Winning ugly is good for a team like this. Even for a team that had been firing on all cylinders as of late, nights like these against good teams happen. Not every game is going to be a conformable contest where you have the lead for the majority of it. In the postseason, the Boston Celtics are going to have to come from behind against some talented ball clubs if they want to play basketball in June for the second consecutive campaign.
Golden State had beaten Boston three straight times on its home floor prior to Thursday night. For a team that had the mighty Warriors in the back of their minds ever since their dismal performance in a loss on the road in early December, this was a win that many are going to look back on as one of the most significant of the regular season.