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Curry's 37 too much for the Cs to handle

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Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

In the midst of a battle for the Eastern Conference's eighth seed, the Celtics took a step back following a close loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

As has been the case for the past three or four games, Boston got off to a quick start right from the tip but really saw an uptick in both energy and production when the bench unit checked in. Led by Isaiah Thomas' 15 first-half points as well as Jae Crowder's 7 points and 9 rebounds, the Celtics were able to push the tempo (59 field-goal attempts through the first two quarters) while putting up points in bunches.

More importantly, though, Brad Stevens' crew seemingly put the clamps on Golden State's high-powered offense, holding them to just 36 percent shooting from both the floor and behind the three point arc. Of course, Stephen Curry was able to get his. The Davidson product poured in 19 on 8-14 shooting but didn't get much help from his teammates. Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson chipped in 13 and 11 respectively but, after them, the next highest scorer tallied just three.

The Warriors aren't first in the Western Conference for no reason, though. Steve Kerr's club opened the third on an 11-2 run, effectively cutting the Boston lead down to just nine points. From there Golden State was able to chip away at Boston's lead in between a couple of big Brandon Bass dunks, including a fierce flush right over the top of Andrew Bogut.

Looking for a spark, Stevens got Thomas back into the game but the diminutive guard was held in check by the larger and longer Shaun Livingston for the remainder of the third.

Golden State continued to chip away at the Celtics lead as the fourth quarter got under way. Curry and Draymond Green spearheaded a 9-2 run, ultimately taking their first lead—96-94—since the first quarter when they led 4-3.

Boston wouldn't be deterred, however, and with just 1:37 left in the game, Marcus Smart nailed a deep three over Curry to give the Cs a 99-98 lead. Golden State then responded with back-to-back Barnes and Andre Iguodala layups before Thomas got to the rim to bring the game back within one.

With just seconds remaining, the Celtics played the foul game and lost, as Curry knocked down four straight free throws to put the game out of reach.

Regardless of the result, Boston played some big time basketball and proved that they're worthy of a playoff spot out East. It won't get any easier, though, with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers next on the schedule.