FiveThirtyEight gave the Celtics a 31% chance to beat the Warriors. Their CARMELO point spread was -5 in favor of Golden State. However, our Twitter poll was at 75% for a Boston win. In Wednesday's nationally televised win against the Bulls, Jeff Van Gundy predicted a C's victory.
Nate Silver's gang were right.
The first quarter opened with Avery Bradley catching fire and forcing Steph Curry to defend off numerous curl screens and down picks. Bradley had 15 early on 6-of-11 shooting and Curry scraped together 7 points, hitting 2 of his first 8 shots. Defensively, it felt like the Celtics overcommitted to Curry threes and drives. Amir Johnson contested shots in the paint, but that left Draymond Green open on the perimeter for a pair of triples.
James Young also contributed 8 good minutes. He may have loafed a little on transition D, but he looked confident with his shot and made the right rotations.
Oh, and this happened:
In the second, it was the Evan Turner Show early. This may be the last time I defend ET against all the Turner haters out there. This guy can play, everybody. He's such an underrated playmaker. If he can turn the corner and attack the paint, he'll find a cutter and if you back off, he'll hit the mid-range. With Thompson out, I'm surprised Stevens opted to play Crowder so much instead of using the more versatile Turner.
The biggest disparity of the first half was at the free throw line. With the Celtics helping on every penetration, Warriors bigs, particularly Green and Festus Ezeli, were able to catch a pass 15-feet out, get a full head of steam, and attack the rim. That turned into a 17-7 edge in FTA's. Despite shooting 51.1% at halftime, Boston went to the locker room down four, 57-53.
In the past, Boston has been a second half team. Not counting tonight, the Celtics have averaged an 97.6 offensive rating and a 94.4 defensive rating in the first half. After the break, they're averaging 106.1 and 99.6 respectively. Unfortunately, they came out flat. Mental errors on defense, no ball movement, missed bunnies, and a mix of failed hero ball stretched the lead out to as much as 10, but a spirited flurry at the end of the third cut it to 7.
The fourth quarter opened with maybe the strangest lineup so far: David Lee, Kelly Olynyk, James Young, Evan Turner, and Avery Bradley. But that's just what the team needed. I'm not sure how many minutes those five have played together, but they just balled They erased the deficit and went pushed to a three point lead on this defense-to-offense furry:
I'm writing this recap live so I'm sorry if this last bit is a little choppy. I'm going to go ALL CAPS THE REST OF THE WAY. IT4 FOR THREE. BRADLEY ON FIRE. IT4 FOR THREE. OLYNYK FOR PRESIDENT. TURNER BLOCK! TURNER BLOCK!! OLYNYK FALL AWAY. WHAT?!?!? WHERE'S THE CALL, REF?!?!? THAT'S AN TERRIBLE CALL! NOT THE ELEVATOR DOORS! RUN A PLAY, ISAIAH! WHY IS MARCUS SMART DRESSED AS THE JOKER?!?!
Oh, man. Overtime.
The bottom line is that the Warriors are a great team and we went toe-to-toe with them and farther than any team has gone this season. We're passed moral victories, so I won't chalk up a fake W on this loss, but I think we learned a lot. I think it's safe to say that Olynyk has finally arrived. He took advantage off mismatches and shot the ball with confidence. On the negative end, the Celtics are in dire need of a big wing scorer. Ever since Jeff Green left, we haven't had that 6'7-9 guy that can get a bucket for us late in the game.