The Warriors are in Boston to take on the Celtics for the second and final meeting between these two teams this season. The Celtics beat the Warriors 111-107 in California on February 2. The Celtics won the series 2-0 last season and have won the last 4 games between these two teams. This is the 3rd game of a 5 game road trip for the Warriors.
The Celtics just returned from a successful 3 game road trip and will play the next 3 games and 6 of the next 8 games at home. After 3 games at home, they will take a 2 game road trip to Brooklyn and Charlotte and then return to Boston for 3 more home games. The Celtics are 206-137 all time against the Warriors and they are 113-37 all time in Boston.
Just as the Celtics have been trending up and rounding into form over their 5 game win streak, the Warriors have been trending up over their 4 game win streak. The Warriors are averaging 126.8 points and are allowing just 106.5 points. As a team,they are shooting 52% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc over their last 4 games. The Celtics will need to play well in order to get a win.
The Celtics are 5th in the East. They are tied with Atlanta (4th) and half a game game ahead of New York (6th). They are 2 games ahead of Miami (7th) and 2.5 games ahead of Charlotte (8th). The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are 17-10 at home and have won 5 straight games. They are 12-12 vs Western teams.
The Warriors are 9th in the West. They are half a game behind Memphis (8th) and 3 games behind Dallas (7th) and 4 games behind Portland (6th). They are half a game ahead of San Antonio for 10th, and the final spot for the play-in games for the playoffs. They are 2.5 games ahead of New Orleans (11th). They are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 11-18 on the road. They have won their last 4 games and are 13-14 vs Eastern teams.
Evan Fournier is still out with Covid. Robert Williams missed Friday’s game vs the Lakers and will also miss this game with knee soreness. The Celtics signed Jabari Parker on Friday, but it is unlikely that he will play in this one but it’s always possible. Moe Wagner was waived to make room on the roster for Parker. Jaylen Brown was added to the injury list on Saturday with a non-covid illness. His availability will be a game time decision. If Jaylen can’t play, I expect that Romeo Langford will get the start in his place.
For the Warriors, Klay Thompson remains out as he rehabs from an Achilles tear. Eric Paschall is out due to a hip injury. James Wiseman just underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ACL and is out. Kelly Oubre, Jr has missed the last 4 games with a wrist sprain and is questionable for this game. If he is able to play, he will likely return to the starting lineup in place of Kent Bazemore.
Probable Celtics Starters
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Tristan Thompson
Evan Fournier (covid) out
Robert Williams III (knee) out
Jabari Parker (not injury related) questionable
Jaylen Brown (illness) questionable
Probable Warriors Starters
PG: Stephen Curry
SG: Kent Bazemore
SF: Andrew Wiggins
PF: Draymond Green
C: Kevon Looney
Gary Payton, Jr
Kelly Oubre, Jr (wrist) questionable
Eric Paschall (hip) out
Klay Thompson (Achilles) out
James Wiseman (knee) out
Kemba Walker vs Stephen Curry
This is a very tough matchup for any team. Curry is averaging 30.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He is shooting 48.9% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc. He is averaging 41.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 59% from the field and 53% on threes over his last 9 games. In the first game vs the Celtics he had 38 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. The Celtics need Kemba to play well on the offensive end, but we should see Smart on Curry on the defensive end. Slowing Curry will go a long way toward getting a win in this game.
Jaylen Brown vs Andrew Wiggins
Brown is coming off one of the best games of the season, scoring 40 points on 85% shooting. Hopefully he can continue where he left off in this one. Wiggins is averaging 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. He is shooting 47.5% from the field and 38.7% from beyond the arc.
Jayson Tatum vs Draymond Green
These two can continue on the court where their sub battle leaves off. Green is averaging 6.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game. He is shooting 41.6% from the field and 26.3% from beyond the arc. Green is averaging 3.3 steals over his last 4 games and so the Celtics need to be aware of where he is to avoid losing the ball. Jayson also needs to play him for the pass as much as for the shot.
Keys to the Game
Defense - Defense is the key to winning. The Celtics’ defense has improved quite a bit over their 4 game win streak. They need to continue to make defense a priority. The Celtics are 13th with a defensive rating of 111.5 while the Warriors are 9th with a defensive rating of 110.0. The Warriors are averaging 113 points per game while the Celtics are averaging 112.6 points. They have to play tough defense if they want to win this game.
Rebound - The Celtics are averaging 44.2 rebounds per game while the Warriors are averaging 42.6 rebounds per game. It takes effort to grab rebounds and the Celtics must make an extra effort to crash the boards and pull down rebounds. If they put out extra effort on the boards, that usually carries through to the rest of their game.
Take Care of the Ball - The Celtics had 21 turnovers against the Lakers, with many of those unforced. They have to clean that up if they hope to keep winning. The Warriors average 17.2 points off turnovers and so if the Celtics get sloppy in this one, the Warriors will make them pay with points at the other end.
Move the Ball - The Celtics ball movement over their win streak has been good. They had 33 assists against the Lakers. The Celtics need to continue to move the ball and that gives them a much better chance to score. The Celtics also need to run and get their offense before the Warriors can get their defense set. Ball movement and moving without the ball are big reasons that the Celtics have won 5 straight and they need to continue doing both.
Be Aggressive for 48 Minutes - The Celtics need to be the more aggressive team from start to finish. They need to be aggressive in going to the hoop and not just settle for 3’s especially if they aren’t falling. They have to be aggressive in crashing the boards, in fighting for loose balls and in running the court. They also have to be more aggressive on defense. They have to come out strong and play hard right up until the final buzzer. The way the Warriors have been playing, if the Celtics slack off for any period of time during the game, they may lose the game.
Momentum - The Celtics have won 5 games straight while the Warriors have won their last 4 games. Both teams come into this game with momentum. It helps that the Celtics are at home, but the Warriors have won their first 2 games on this road trip and so are playing well on the road right now. The Celtics need to ride their momentum and play hard and play harder than the Warriors.
Home Game - The Celtics have played well at home and they need to continue their strong play at the Garden in this game. The Celtics finally have fans in the building and hopefully the Garden crowd, even though small, will be loud and give them a boost. The Warriors have not played well in the Garden in recent games and hopefully that will continue for this game.
Officiating - Officiating isn’t always a factor but it always has the potential to be a factor. Every officiating team calls the game differently. Some call it tight and others let them play. Some are tech happy while others let more go. Some favor the home team while some call is straight. However the game is called, the Celtics must adjust and not allow the officiating to mess with their focus.