1. Before I jump into it I just have to say it, we just got our first taste of playoff level basketball. It had all of the makings of a good one with the defending champs riding a seven game winning streak and the team with the league’s best record on a 13 game winning streak of their own. Needless to say it did not disappoint.
Powered by an outstanding all around performance by Jaylen Brown the Boston Celtics got a big home win over the Golden State Warriors to extend their win streak to 14. Brown paced the Cs with 22 points, 7 boards with a pair of steals and blocks. It wasn’t the prettiest statistical night for Brown but full disclosure this wasn’t the prettiest game. He scrounged up the 22 points on 7 of 18 shooting but his 11 third quarter points were instrumental in the Boston erasing a 17 point deficit.
Even as he hit timely shots it was his defense that energized the Cs. Whether it was keeping hands in the faces of the best group of shooters in the league, fearlessly defending Kevin Durant one on one and flying around the court like a green clad banshee Brown was a catchall for the very few holes in an always rock solid Boston defense.
2. The Cs scored five in double figures with Al Horford the high man behind Brown. Horford tallied an 18 and 11 double double on a sharpest on the squad 7 of 11 from the field. Kyrie Irving started off slow then went all Future Mask Off and got going late finishing to the tune of 16-6-5 proving to be especially valuable in the final frame as he scored nine to help put the Dubs away. Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum put in 12 a piece and played some quality defense.
The Celtics reserves only accounted for only 12 points but they were arguably as valuable as the starters on the defensive end. Marcus Smart went scoreless but was effective in harassing the Warriors mercilessly grabbing 7 boards with a pair of steals and a block. Rookie Semi Ojeleye wasn’t intimidated and had a decent showing. Terry Rozier and Aron Baynes rounded out what ended up being a masterpiece in ugly basketball.
And this is why Boston won. They know that they (along with entire league outside of maybe Houston) can’t beat the Warriors in a track meet so they managed to do what many try and fail to do, make Golden State play their game. If you need any evidence that this was the case just chew on this, Boston won this game shooting an abysmal 33% from the field and only landing 22% of their threes. I know we have a LOT of ball left to go and a Celtics v Warriors final is pretty damned far from a certainty but if it were to happen I for one won’t be mad at it.
3. Well this was one hell of a way to have a winning streak come to an end. To say Golden State had an off night would be one way to put it. Annnnnnnnnnd another other way (and in my opinion the correct) way to put it would be to say Golden State got defended into the ground. But since this is Golden State it wasn’t all tears. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 24 points 50% shooting. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson a.k.a the Splash Brothers were well, less than wet combining for only 22 points on 8 of 32 shooting as the two tallied more personal fouls with ten than field goals. Draymond Green brought the intensity and churned out an okay all around performance with a line of 11-8-5 with three blocks.
Given all of the difficulties Golden State got decent production off the bench early. Nick “Swaggy P” Young had 7 early points and David West tossed in 6. Omri Casspi nabbed 8 boards in 8 minutes and Andre “Iggy” Iguodala put in 8 and 4 including a thunderous dunk on Marcus Smart.
Thing is though they didn’t beat themselves here. Shots weren’t falling because they were pressured, momentum as well as the lead was lost because Brown energized the Celtics in the third and for the first time since arguably their loss to Memphis the first week of the season they just got beat. There’s no need to panic as it it still highly likely this group skates to 60 plus wins but it’s refreshing to know that there is a team that isn’t resigned to wait them out. And that says a lot.