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Boston Celtics overcome slow start, edge out Zombie Warriors 105-100

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It wasn’t quite how anybody drew it up, but the Boston Celtics walked away with a hard-fought 105-100 victory in their Chase Center debut, advancing to 10-1 on the season.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Boston Celtics visited the Golden State Warriors came this past March, as they romped their way to a 33-point victory in Oracle Arena behind 30 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists from Gordon Hayward. Eight months later, Boston’s return to California was perhaps as dissimilar as it possibly could be, featuring a whopping eight new starters between the two franchises, an entirely new arena, and — perhaps most surprisingly — some much stiffer competition from the reigning Western Conference champs.

The Celtics’ debut in the Chase Center may not have been as effortless as their Oracle finale, but they still came away with a win over the injury ravaged Warriors all the same. Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 24 points, Kemba Walker added 20 (14 in the fourth quarter), Jaylen Brown stuff the stat sheet with 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals and Marcus Smart cashed in on five three-pointers, overcoming 20 points from Alec Burks, 16 from Eric Paschall and 34 Golden State free throw attempts to seal the 105-100 victory.

Two days after putting on an offensive clinic against the leaky defense of the Washington Wizards, the Celtics found points harder to come by in the early going against the chippy young Warriors. They opened the night by connecting on just three of their first 15 shots, only narrowly outscoring Russell during his first shift on the court, 10-9, before a Warriors timeout with four minutes remaining.

Russell was the stand-out of the early going, scoring 10 points while playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter, but Golden State complemented him with a balanced and efficient offensive attack. Seven of the nine players to take the court for the Warriors scored at least one basket in the first, and they committed just one turnover. Though the Celtics’ offense would regain a little bit of its mojo in the final minutes of the quarter, Golden State’s frisky offense would keep them ahead 32-23 heading into the second.

Some semblance of order was quickly restored in the second quarter, however. The Celtics opened scoring in the period after Marcus Smart stripped an errant Warriors pass and kicked off a fast break, finding Tatum under the basket for an and-one layup. From there, Tatum came alive, hitting a pair of jumpers and running a one-man fast break off a steal to push himself to a game-high 15 points and cut the Golden State lead to just one point midway through the quarter.

After the two teams spent the next few minutes trading blows, the Celtics would finally finish digging themselves out of their self-made hole with just under two minutes remaining in the first half as Walker converted on a trio of free throws. Boston would enter the half clinging to a one-point lead, 52-51, led by 17 points from Tatum, a trio of threes from Smart and a game-high +15 from Brad Wanamaker.

As has come to be customary for this Celtics team, the game seemed to come more easily to them after the break. They raced out to a quick 7-2 run to open the third quarter, stretching their lead to six. The defense tightened up substantially, forcing five Warriors turnovers in the first six minutes of the half after compiling six in the entire first half. Early in the quarter, Smart cashed in on his fourth three-pointer of the game, marking four straight games with at least four makes from deep.

Of note, Russell came up injured with just over five minutes to play in the third. After having his right hand checked out by trainers on the sidelines, he departed the game, and would ultimately be ruled out for the rest of the night with a sprained right thumb.

Stretching the lead much further proved difficult. The Warriors showed remarkable poise after the early onslaught, trading blows with the Celtics for much of the quarter and holding the deficit to single-digits. Most notably, they found their way to the free throw line, picking up 12 points at the charity stripe in the period. They were held at bay by Brown, however — the young forward took control of the quarter with a trio of three-pointers and some crafty finishing in the paint. The Celtics would hold onto a five-point lead entering the final quarter.

The advantage was not long-lived, as a quick 5-0 Warriors run evened the score at 76 to open the quarter. Shortly thereafter, Burks would strip Wanamaker at half-court for a layup and Robinson would follow with a tip-in to afford the Warriors a four-point advantage and prompt a Brad Stevens timeout.

It didn’t take long for the Celtics to restore order, at least for a time. Coming out of the timeout, Walker hit a much-needed three-pointer — his second made basket of the game — and Tatum canned a corner three of his own to restore the Boston lead. The Warriors simply wouldn’t let them land the back-breaker, counter-punching with timely makes at seemingly every opportunity. They’d regain the lead once again with 3:34 remaining in regulation on a put-back layup from Ky Bowman, putting them ahead 93-92 and again forcing Stevens to call time.

Golden State would push the lead to five after an unfortunate foul by Daniel Theis and an alley-oop to Willie Cauley-Stein. The Celtics weren’t done yet, though, as Walker canned a timely triple to keep things from getting out of hand. Theis absorbed a strong hit from Green to get to the free throw line, but after missing the second attempt, Smart seemingly saved the ball inbounds, only to be called out-of-bounds.

A lengthy video review ensued, resulting in a jump ball. The Celtics lost the tip, but a brilliant read from Tatum created a lightning-fast transition dunk that finally, mercifully put the Warriors behind for good.

Next up, the Celtics will continue their Western Conference road trip, traveling to Sacramento to face off against the Kings at 3:30 PM EST on NBC Sports Boston.