One of the more impressive aspects about tonight was Boston’s resiliency against the Golden State’s scoring runs, particularly in the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd quarters. A lot of teams wilt under the pressure of the Oracle Arena crowd and frequent barrage of backbreaking jump shots and backdoor layups. I suppose that we shouldn’t be surprised. The Celtics have only suffered three double-digit losses all season, but to remain poised against a team of Golden State’s caliber is truly notable.
Despite 49 points from Stephen Curry, Boston couldn’t guarded him any better. The NBA All-Star captain avenged his early season 3-for-14 TD Garden performance by nailing one contested jumper after another. His shotmaking was a prime example that good offense will always outlast good defense. In contrast, Boston had better luck bothering Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson’s airspace. The sharpshooting duo combined for 10-for-30 shooting, and the Celtics did well to use their length and switchability to their advantage. I also enjoyed the strategy of sagging off of Draymond Green and daring him to launch three-pointers. Allowing open jumpers to capable shooters equates to playing with fire, but picking your poison with Green is acceptable against the Warriors’ high-powered offense.
The Celtics still have some big picture issues to patch up before we can book our June tickets to Oakland, but how great was it to watch two of the best defensive teams compete in a playoff-like atmosphere? Boston and Golden State are the poster children for how to play team oriented defense. The matchup switching, the rotational helping, the relentless shot contests, and the ability to trap and recover were straight out of a textbook. If you’re a coach, you could pull dozens of teaching clips from this game.
By the way, how do we think Cavaliers apologists feel about the Warriors continuously offering quotes about a potential finals matchup with Boston? Curry called it “very, very likely” in November. Durant alluded to it before this game. Shaun Livingston and Steve Kerr hinted at it in a post-game interviews tonight.