On the heels of losing six matches in the NBA Finalsthe Boston Celtics They’ve developed something of a boogeyman in the Golden State Warriors. Seeing a small chance of revenge for their fate in the postseason, the Celtics suffered a big loss on the road against the Warriors in early December—a waning loss that derailed some of their early season momentum, resulting in a five-loss streak. in six games for Boston.
This evening, the Celtics got another chance. The boogeyman came to town, and the Celtics finally beat them, flipping the script in a game that at first seemed too familiar to score an impressive 121-118 win in overtime.
Jason Tatum stuffed the stat sheet, recording 34 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals, but again struggled to score efficiently against the Golden State defense, shooting 9-of-27 from the field. Meanwhile, Jaylen Brown struggled in his comeback from a close-range dynasty, scoring just 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting, but connected on a tying three-pointer to send the game into overtime. The Warriors were led by their regular trio of Steve Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Paul, who combined to score 77 points on the evening, but were unable to keep the Celtics at bay.
The rematch started with a strange offensive idea. Neither team looked particularly coordinated at that end of the floor in the first quarter, with both teams opening the game shooting worse than 40% from the field. Essentially shooting the opposite of each other, the Celtics forced the issue into the paint but punched their players, while the Warriors scored their first 12 points from behind the three-point arc until Paul slammed home a dunk with just over six minutes to play. in the quarter. Golden State’s triples narrowly won the quarter, and the Celtics trailed in the second quarter, 26-25.
Boston’s shooting slump didn’t prolong itself this time around, thankfully. After making just one three in the first quarter, they connected on a three in the opening minutes of the second. The Celtics rode their power shots to within 13-2 to give themselves a moderate lead, but Thompson’s rising play (20 points in the first half) prevented them from creating any distance. With seconds left in the first half, Thompson knocked the ball off Tatum on the dribble, and Curry tapped in a half-court run at the buzzer to keep the Warriors ahead at the half, 55-54.
With the Warriors trimming their starting lineup, and Kevon Looney in favor of Paul, the Celtics enjoyed a size advantage this evening and worked to exploit it. Horford and Williams III both produced to a high standard throughout most of the night, with the former doing some increasingly rare paintwork, while the latter smashed attacking glass and collected second chance points. Horford scored 20 points and blocked three shots, Williams III went 14-11-2 on the line, and the duo totaled 10 offensive rebounds on the night.
The second half brought a quick turnaround in the Warriors’ favor. The starting lineup continued to produce, while Tatum and Brown’s feuds showed no signs of abating. Led by the starting lineup (the bench scored only 10 points), the Warriors steadily pushed their lead forward, leading by as many as 11 points as the quarter continued. Aided by Boston’s increasingly dysfunctional offense, the Warriors entered the final quarter with a seven-point lead, 89-82.
If the Celtics are going to come back in the fourth quarter of this game, they’re going to have to start off the offensive. The early returns were when the fourth started…uncertain. They continued to look out for others, but the warriors weren’t able to extend their superiority at all. Malcolm Brogdon connected on a three-pointer with just over six minutes left in regulation, and suddenly the Celtics trailed by just two possessions, 97-92.
After a timeout, that five-point lead became just three points, as Brown set up a one-man fast breaker for a steal to score only his third basket-making of the night. The Celtics forced another steal and Tatum reached the free throw line, and after converting on both, Boston trailed by just one point. With the game teetering on the scales, the Warriors responded with a Draymond Green three-pointer to take a four-point lead, and the two teams traded baskets in a frantic sequence over the next few minutes. The Warriors’ lead remained at four with just over a minute to play in regulation, 104-100.
The game’s closing sequence began with a three-pointer by Horford, who followed it up with a block on the other end, though the Celtics couldn’t capitalize. Tatum coughed up a turnover to Poole on the ensuing possession, which scored for the Warriors on a Curry layup on the other end. With 18 seconds left to play, Brown hit his fourth shot of the game: a three-pointer from the wing to tie the game at 106. Curry missed a three-pointer on tight coverage by Horford as time expired, and the game went to overtime.
The Celtics opened the overtime period by scoring their first four points, but the Warriors quickly responded with five of their own, as Curry’s hilarious three-pointer put them ahead 111-110. The Browns had an answer, connecting in a pointer to put Boston back in front and pushing a Golden State timeout with 2:14 remaining in the overtime frame. From there, Thompson coughed up a pass from Wiggins, and the Celtics pounced—Horford scored another crucial three, and the Celtics up 115-111 with two minutes left to play.
Fittingly, it was Tatum who hit the dagger. When the clock was ticking under 1:30, he resized the green and sprayed a three-pointer, fourth of the night, to put Boston ahead by seven. Although an error on a three-pointer from Wiggins and a surprise three-pointer from Donte DiVincenzo made things a bit more cheery than they probably should have been, it was still enough to carry the Celtics the rest of the way, and they walked away with a particularly satisfying win.
Then, the Celtics will cross the border north, heading to Toronto for a game against the Raptors this Saturday at 5 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Boston.