Leading up to last night's game, there was one stat that Celtics fans were looking to as a beacon of hope in a tough match-up with the Golden State Warriors. Boston is the only team to not have lost by more than five points to the Warriors over the last two seasons. Sure, it's a small sample size, but Boston went toe-to-toe with Golden State when they visited the Garden only to lose in double overtime. Boston went to Golden State on a mission- just win the game.
That's exactly what they did.
Led by Isaiah Thomas (22 points, six assists), Jared Sullinger (20 points, 12 rebounds), and Evan Turner (21 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals), the Celtics battled from the opening tip, matched every make the Warriors had, gave Stephen Curry fits in the first half, withstood every Golden State barrage and still managed to beat the Warriors, 109-106. Stephen Curry scored 29 for the Warriors, knocking down 8-15 three pointers in the process. Curry, like Isaiah Thomas, didn't get hot until the second half, but they more than made up for it by putting on a show. Draymond Green also had an excellent game for the reigning champs with 16 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, but his turnover in the final seconds opened the door for Boston to close the game out.
Golden State jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead when Draymond Green hit consecutive threes, but the mentally-tough Celtics weren't fazed in the slightest. With Isaiah Thomas being ice cold to start the game, Boston turned to Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner, and Avery Bradley to carry them. At the end of the first, Boston only trailed 23-21, which is great when you get nothing out of your best offensive player. On the flip side, Boston was shutting down Stephen Curry, holding him to just three points, points that came on the last shot of the quarter, and forcing him to turn the ball over five times.
Boston continued to play mano-y-mano with the Warriors in the second quarter, winning the quarter 24-20. The Celtics got more contributions from different players, specifically Jonas Jerebko, who was knocking down big shots, and Amir Johnson, a guy who has played extremely well over the last two weeks. Turner, Sullinger, and Bradley also continued to play excellent, but Thomas just couldn't seem to get anything going. The Warriors continued to struggle with the excellent defense of the Boston guards, and Boston held a 45-43 lead going into halftime.
The third quarter was one for the ages, one of those rare games where two talented teams get very hot and take the game to a level we don't see very often. Last night, the Celtics played championship basketball with the league champs, and it was fun. Stephen Curry knocked down SIX threes in the third quarter alone and scored 21 points in the quarter.
Most teams would get hit with that left hook and call it a night, but Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics weren't having it. Every time Curry knocked down one of his patented threes, Thomas would take it to the rack and score over the trees, which is the strength of his game. Thomas, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored 18 third quarter points and not only kept Boston in the game, it kept them in the lead. Boston won the epic third quarter, 37-36, and they can be proud of the way they answered the bell when Curry got red-hot, not to mention Klay Thompson knocking down shots too.
The Celtics led 82-79 going into the fourth, and even though everyone thought the Warriors would take over and win yet another home game, Boston just refused to back down, and every time it looked like Golden State was going to take the lead and the momentum, someone else stepped up from the green team. With Isaiah Thomas getting rest, the beleaguered Marcus Smart got his chance, and he stepped up big time. Smart finished with seven points, six assists, and four rebounds, but he was also dominant on defense and caused problems for the Golden State guards all night.
Boston was up 95-85 with 7:52 to go in the fourth, and it was starting to look like this game belonged to Boston, but Leandro Barbosa wasn't having it and knocked down a three to cut the lead to seven. After Jared Sullinger made two at the line to make the score 97-88, Draymond Green took advantage of poor defense and picked up an and-one to cut the lead to 97-91. Sullinger stepped up again on the next possession, tipping in a shot to give Boston an eight point lead with 5:07 to go.
Golden State, per usual, was hardly done, and Draymond Green came right down the floor and knocked down another three to cut the lead to 99-94. With 3:58 to go, Draymond Green stepped up again, picking up two points off a tip-in to make the score 99-96. After consecutive baskets by Thomas and Turner, the Celtics had a 103-96 lead with 2:10 remaining, but of course Golden State was game and Klay Thompson drilled another three to make it 103-99 with 1:58 to go. Jared Sullinger missed a shot on the Celtics following possession and Stephen Curry converted a reverse layup on the other end to make the score Boston 103, Golden State 101. Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a timeout to setup the final minute.
Evan Turner scored with 1:16 left to give Boston a 105-101 lead, but everyone in the stadium and watching the game on TV knew it was far from done. The Warriors and Celtics traded misses before Shaun Livingston was fouled with 46.9 seconds left, and he sunk both free throws to cut the lead to 105-103. Amir Johnson had a huge turnover with 30 seconds to go and the Warriors called timeout to setup a play they thought would work. Unfortunately for them, Draymond Green had his worst moment of the game and turned the ball over. Evan Turner was fouled, went to the line, and sunk both his free throws, putting Boston up 107-103 with 18 seconds remaining.
Golden State inbounded to Curry who raced up the court, drawing the attention of every Celtic, and he calmly made a beautiful pass to Harrison Barnes in the corner, and Barnes proceeded to knock down a corner-three to cut the lead to 107-106 with 10.2 seconds remaining. After a Boston timeout, Marcus Smart made a pass to Isaiah Thomas that was nearly stolen by Curry but ended up in the hands of Thomas, which he laid in to up the lead to 109-106 with 8.3 seconds left. Golden State got the ball to Curry on the final possession and he got a clean look, but this time he missed, as did Harrison Barnes and his heave, and the streak was finally over.
Boston 109, Golden State 106
Statistics Provided by NBA.com
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