In terms of material value, Saturday night’s TNT showdown against the Golden State Warriors didn’t mean much, as a road game against the 11th-ranked team in the opposing conference. Returning to the arena of the team that handed them their heartbreaking NBA Finals loss carried a bit more significance for the Boston Celtics, however, as they traveled to San Francisco hoping for some small measure of revenge. Ultimately, though, this wasn’t the night, as the Warriors rode a strong run late in the third quarter to pull away, handing the Celtics their sixth loss of the season, 123-107.
Al Horford again sat out, as he remains in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols, and Robert Williams III’s imminent return remains at least a few days away. The Warriors, meanwhile, lacked the services of Finals standout Andrew Wiggins due to right adductor tightness. Jaylen Brown led the way for the Celtics with 31 points, while Jayson Tatum scored 18 points but struggled to the tune of 6-of-21 shooting on the evening. Klay Thompson paced the Warriors with 34 points, who funneled most of their offense through him, Stephen Curry (32 points) and Jordan Poole (20) en route to the win.
Despite the two teams’ reputations for scoring the basketball, it was a defense-forward affair from the opening tip. They started the game a combined 0-for-7 from the field, and only the Splash Brothers themselves seemed to find any rhythm in the first quarter. Curry and Thompson combined for 20 of the Warriors’ 33 first quarter points, and the Warriors led the Celtics by eight heading into the second quarter.
With the Warriors keyed in on Tatum (4-of-12 in the first half), it was Brogdon who stepped up to carry the weight of the offense. He scored 12 points in his first 10 minutes of play time as the Celtics worked to draw even with Golden State. Led by the play of Brogdon and Brown, the Celtics put up a whopping 38 points in the second quarter, even as their three-point attempts continued to miss paydirt.
The Warriors held them at bay, however. Thompson just continued to score and Jordan Poole started to find his way to the free throw line. Thompson’s first half scoring total surged to 24, with Curry and Poole adding 30 combined — including a four-point play from Curry — and the Celtics gained just three points into the Golden State lead, entering the halftime break trailing by five, 68-63.
Thompson’s third foul of the evening put Tatum on the line for three free throws to open the second half, and the Celtics seemed invigorated in the the early minutes. They cut the Golden State lead down to one possession several times early in the third quarter, getting as close as two points, but the Warriors rebuffed them as the quarter wore on. The Warriors recorded a quick 8-2 run with just over five minutes remaining in the quarter to push ahead by as many as 14. They would lead the Celtics by 12 entering the fourth quarter, 95-83.
The game danced on the verge of disaster in the opening minutes of the final quarter, as the Warriors carried over their momentum and built their largest lead of the night, ahead by 17 points with nine minutes remaining in the game. The Celtics mounted a small comeback, cutting the lead down to eight, but it proved to be little more than a formality. Curry nailed a 27-point pull-up with just under four minutes to play, and that would ultimately be the dagger.
Next up, the Celtics continue their Western Conference road trip with a visit to the Los Angeles Clippers — their fifth out of six consecutive road games — on Monday night at 10:30 PM EST on NBA TV.