Just what we all need: a 10 p.m. game to throw our sleep cycles even more out of whack. But this isn’t any late game. This is Celtics-Warriors – a matchup that never seems to disappoint.
When it comes to the regular season, it doesn’t get any better. The Kings game later in the week may not quite be worth sacrificing some sleep, but this one definitely is.
The Celtics (41-28) have won five of six and the Warriors (47-22) four in a row after an uncharacteristically cold stretch. Regardless of how each team is doing coming in, the intensity and execution always seem to increase whenever they meet.
In the last 15 meetings, since they became the Warriors in 2014-15, the Celtics are 8-7 against Golden State. Even when one team has had less talent at various points since, the result often seems to be somewhat of a toss-up. Eleven of those 15 games have been decided by five points or fewer and it often comes down to the final few possessions.
Earlier this season in December, the Warriors won, 111-107, fighting off a late Celtics comeback and holding on in the final seconds.
In the meeting before that, last April, Steph Curry dropped 47 and Jayson Tatum 44, as the Celtics escaped with a 119-114 victory. Two months prior, Daniel Theis was plus-24 and had 11 rebounds, helping the Celtics prevail, 111-107.
There are a couple outliers, but overall, it often comes down to a big shot or stop or a few timely free throws. Why do we think that is?
Well, for starters, no lead is safe in the NBA – particularly with these teams that can get hot in a hurry. Whenever Curry and Tatum are on the court, anything can happen.
They also parallel each other in many ways when healthy. Tatum and Jaylen Brown may not be quite as splashy, and Curry and Klay Thompson may not be quite as tall, but both duos work incredibly well in tandem and help make life easier for their teammate. When one is off, the other can carry the load.
Rob Williams plays a similar role to Kevon Looney, Draymond Green and Marcus Smart will make your life hell, and Jordan Poole and Derrick White are both shifty combo guards who provide a great deal of versatility.
Both teams can play at a variety of speeds, are in the top-five in fewest points allowed and top 10 in rebounding. They both turn it over a good amount, but neither side seems to suffer much big picture because the turnovers stem from unselfish, free-flowing play. The Warriors are third in 3-point percentage offensively, while the Celtics are third in 3-point percentage defensively.
While calling it a Finals preview is a stretch, it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility that they could end up meeting there. Regardless of how the playoffs unfold, it’s important to enjoy the journey and appreciate each game along the way.
This may be a classic jinx, but the odds are that fans who stay up should be rewarded with a terrific basketball game between two balanced, well-coached, evenly matched teams. Even if it doesn’t shake out that way, watching Curry and Thompson hit 3 after 3 is never a bad way to spend an evening.