The Golden State Warriors remain a perfect 24-0 despite an inefficient game from Steph Curry and two starters missing from the lineup, beating the Boston Celtics in double overtime 124-119 in Boston..
“Off night” is actually a pretty harsh way to describe Curry’s performance. Despite missing a couple of layups and air-balling his first shot of the game, Curry finished the night with 38 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists but on 33 percent shooting from the field.
The Warriors just proved that they have the NBA’s deepest roster. They have more options than they know what to do with. It was Draymond Green who had the biggest game. Throughout the first half he ran the offense, and guarded multiple positions on defense. He finished the game with 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks on 40 percent shooting.
The Warriors were undermanned, as starters Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes were sidelined with ankle injuries. But they just kept overwhelming the Celtics with mismatches. Having several versatile wings on one team is what makes the Warriors so dangerous. Isaiah Thomas, a 5’9” point guard, was left to defend Livingston, a 6’7” point guard, in the post. Avery Bradley took the brunt of the load defending Curry. Bradley scored 15 points in the first quarter, but fouled out in the first overtime. Once he was off the floor, the Celtics had no answer defensively for the reigning MVP.
This was a game that got away from the Celtics. Late in the fourth quarter, Evan Turner had a big block on Curry, and the Celtics went up 101-96 with only 1:47 left. One more good possession would have closed out the game. Then Curry got to the foul line, cutting the lead to one point. Curry followed this by hitting a 29-foot three-pointer on the beautiful double screen play known as the elevator doors, which the Warriors have been running since Marc Jackson was coaching the team.
Not having a star to close out games has been the Celtics Achilles heel since they dealt away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in 2013. The Warriors were missing two key players, and still had too much fire power for the Celtics to contain. Once Bradley was off the floor, the Warriors were not going to lose a shooting contest against the likes of Evan Turner and Kelly Olynyk.
The Celtics were lucky that the Warriors did not throw Green in at center, because at that point, the Warriors are a true matchup nightmare to defend in half court and transition. It was surprising that Interim Coach Luke Walton only barely played a Curry-Livingston-Barbosa-Iguodala-Green lineup, but he played it safe by sticking with Elezi and the committee of Brandon Rush, Ian Clark and James Michal McAdoo, who were making plays and had the Warriors up by as many as 11.
Interesting side note: Interim coaches are eligible for coach of the year, but they get no credit for wins. If Walton does win the award, he will be the first coach to win without technically recording a single victory.
The Celtics were impressive defensively and played Curry better than anyone in the league to this point. Curry committed eight turnovers and the Celtics kept him out of the paint. Of Curry’s 38 points, 32 of them were three-pointers and free throws.
The Celtics gave themselves numerous chances to win the game. If they played every game with the intensity of last night’s game, they would be a formidable team in the weak eastern conference. The Warriors just wore them down, and without a true go-to-guy on the team, the Celtics blew their chance of ending the Warriors’ historic run.
All in all, the best thing for both teams is to shake this game off. The Celtics have nothing to be ashamed of despite letting the game slip. They played the best game against the Warriors of any team so far this season. And as for the Warriors, they turn right around and play Milwaukee tomorrow night. Curry and the gang will need to recharge and forget about the pressure of their undefeated season.
Both teams got better tonight, and being there in person, it was a joy to watch.