The date has been circled on the NBA calendar since the schedules were first released back in August. The champs are coming to Boston.
The Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics were everyone’s darling NBA Finals matchup before the season began. The Warriors are in the midst of their own dynasty while the Celtics were getting everyone healthy without LeBron in the Eastern Conference. It was the series everyone was talking about.
Now, the Warriors are still the Warriors, but the Celtics have taken a bit longer to run consistently on all cylinders. The Eastern Conference has become much more competitive than people thought before the season started, and so to get to that Finals scenario, there is more work to be done for this team.
As for the game tonight, these two teams always bring the best out of each other. The Celtics are the only team in the league not to have a losing record against the Warriors over the past four seasons. They are 3-3 against the Warriors over that stretch, but they always show they can compete with them.
The last few games for the Celtics have been smooth sailing. They are on a five-game winning streak over some easy competition, but wins are wins for this team who needs to get going to catch the top teams in the East. As for the Warriors, they are on their own winning streak of nine games. They looked to be a little shaken early in the season to make us question them for a bit only for them now to rip off nine in a row like it is nothing. Not to mention, they just added their fifth All-Star to their starting lineup with DeMarcus Cousins coming back from his Achilles’ injury.
From one to five, this Warriors lineup is incredible. That is, of course, known all around the basketball world, but it is something as basketball fans you have to step back and appreciate watching this game tonight. It is two teams that have incredible rosters with top-notch coaching that bring 110% intensity to these games between the two teams.
The match up to watch for tonight is DeMarcus Cousins going up against the Boston frontcourt. Boogie has dominated the Celtics for years either back with the Kings or Pelicans. In those years, he was fully healthy, but nevertheless his size and intensity down low has always caused a problem for Boston. He has only played in three games this season, and he is averaging 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds which are not bad numbers considering that is only playing 20 minutes per game. Stevens and the Celtics are going to have to disrupt his time on the court either with Aron Baynes or Horford getting physical in the low post.
When Cousins is not on the court is when we see these two teams pair up against each other so well. The Warriors play a very similar lineup as the Celtics. Both teams like to play small ball switching on most defensive assignments. It is two through five of defensive versatility which is a major reason of why the Celtics play the Warriors so well each year. If the Celtics can continue the success of the past and focus on good defense, they can exploit the few weaknesses the Warriors may have. Now if Golden State gets out and start running up and down like a track meet, it may be a long night for the C’s.
Both teams have fortunate injury situations coming into tonight’s game. For the Celtics, they once again have a clean injury sheet. It will be all hands on deck for this huge regular season game. For the Warriors, they will be without Damian Jones after he had a pectoral muscle injury take him out for the season. They will also be without ex-Celtic Jonas Jerebko. He left the Warriors road trip because his family is expecting their second child. Luckily for the Boston crowd, there will be no Jonas revenge game.
Above all else, this is a statement game for both teams. The Celtics can win this game as they have in the past and it will all start with the defense. Kyrie is going to have a classic Kyrie game of 35ish points, so the rest of the team has to contribute as well. Get stops, value possessions, and get the Saturday night home crowd behind you.
PG – Kyrie Irving – Stephen Curry
SG – Marcus Smart – Klay Thompson
SF – Jayson Tatum – Kevin Durant
PF – Marcus Morris Sr. – Draymond Green
C – Al Horford – DeMarcus Cousins
Boston – NONE
Golden State – Damian Jones (Out, Pectorials); Jonas Jerebko (Out, Personal)
How To Watch
Time – 8:30 EST
TV – ABC/ESPN; NBC Sports Boston