Despite trailing by a 20-spot at the end of the first half, the Celtics erupted in the third quarter behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. To start the fourth, they even reclaimed a small lead. However, the Warriors firepower was too much to overcome and Boston dropped to 14-15 in a 111-107 loss at TD Garden.
Steph Curry scored 30 and Andrew Wiggins 27 to lead the Warriors to another win. Tatum had another strong offensive performance with 27 and Brown added 20 of his own.
Boston was dealing with a myriad of health and safety protocol-related absences, leaving their frontcourt extremely shallow. Al Horford, Grant Williams, Jabari Parker, and Juancho Hernangomez all were unavailable against Golden State. Sam Hauser and Dennis Schröder (non-COVID illness) were also ruled out.
The Warriors were down just Jordan Poole aside from the absences they’ve had all season in James Wiseman and Klay Thompson.
Golden State jumped out to a quick lead thanks to the NBA’s new all-time leading 3-point shooter. Curry had Golden State up 14-3 after back-to-back bombs. The 23-5 Warriors were doing what they do best: moving the ball and finding good shots. In addition to Curry’s quick nine points, Wiggins had six of his own after six minutes.
Boston was able to climb back from an early 12-point hole after a good stretch from Marcus Smart. Smart assisted on five points and hit a layup of his own to bring the score to 25-19.
Curry continued the hot start into a 16-point quarter, hitting 3/5 threes. Golden State led 34-26 after one quarter. Smart was 3/3 from the floor and led Boston with seven points.
Tatum was spreading the ball around early, recording five assists shortly through the second quarter. Tatum hit Enes Freedom with consecutive passes following pick-and-roll action to keep pace with the Warriors.
Golden State did reclaim their sizable lead midway through the second. Two failed drives, one blocked and one stolen from Brown resulted in Warriors baskets and a Boston timeout.
Wiggins had a great second quarter, scoring 15 points in the blink of an eye to stretch Golden State’s lead to 20. The Warriors 21-6 run over a five and a half minute span had the Celtics in a rough spot quickly. Boston trailed 59-39 with four and a half minutes remaining in the half.
Golden State consistently had offensive rebounds resulting in extra possessions, which they took advantage of. Their 14-2 advantage in second chance points was clear throughout the first half.
One of the Celtics’ first half bright spots was Josh Richardson shooting 4/4 from deep in the first half, leading Boston with 13 points.
That's 3/3 for Josh pic.twitter.com/YgzOzShTdi— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 18, 2021
A quick flurry from Richardson, Tatum and Brown closed the gap significantly to cap off a good stretch for Boston to close out the first half. Golden State led 68-54 at halftime, following foul shots from Curry coming from a foul on a half-court heave and a technical on Ime Udoka.
Wiggins capped off an explosive second quarter with another three, and closed out the first half with 24 points.
Boston opened up the second half with commanding force, forcing multiple turnovers and playing with energy. Smart wrestled down a jump ball, which he then won with force and gave Tatum an easy dunk, causing the Garden to erupt in a roar.
Tatum was on to kick off the third quarter, scoring seven points in a few minutes to bring his total to 16 points. The run, kicked off by Tatum, brought the Celtics to within two points with six minutes gone in the third.
Brown and Tatum scored all 17 of Boston’s points to start the third quarter, willing the team offensively. The tandem was dealing to kick off the third, playing well together.
An incredible defensive stretch for Boston as a team brought the game back to within a single possession, 73-71.
Golden State, however, is not a team that stays cold for long, and the Warriors quickly found some good shots and took advantage of mistakes to extend their lead back to seven, 79-72.
The Warriors’ turnovers gave Boston many chances to hang in, which they took consistently throughout the third. Golden State had seven turnovers midway through the quarter.
Smart picked up a crucial fifth foul to close out the third quarter, a period in which he was vital to the team’s success. The Warriors held a one-point lead, 82-81, going into the third.
The third quarter was huge for Boston, outscoring Golden State 27-14 to climb back into the game.
Tatum opened the fourth quarter still on fire, hitting a three to give Boston their first lead since 3-2, 84-82. He cut through the defense for a layup to end a 7-0 run later on.
Aaron Nesmith reached 11 points early in the fourth, capped off with a strong and-one off a cut. Nesmith hit a couple threes and made some good hustle plays in increased minutes.
The Warriors held the same seven-point lead with 4:30 remaining in the fourth, then Curry woke back up, hitting a deep three to stretch the lead to 10. The Warriors run was 8-0 over the course of a minute and forty seconds.
Boston narrowed the gap once more, lowering the Warriors lead to five with two minutes to go. After a stop, Jaylen Brown converted a layup in transition to bring it within three. Curry had an answer, hitting a floater in between multiple defenders to give him 30 points and his team a five-point lead.
IN MARCUS SMART WE TRUST! pic.twitter.com/PF7wjIhWFE— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 18, 2021
Andrew Iguodala forced a big turnover with 20 seconds left, putting the game in a good spot for Golden State. Curry’s 30-point night came to an interesting end as Smart drew a picture-perfect Smart charge, fouling Curry out. Smart immediately hit a three following that with four seconds left to put the Celtics down just two.
For more postgame coverage of the Celtics battle with Steph and the Warriors, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Boston’s big second half and the Jays’ scoring output.