The teams with the best defensive ratings in the NBA met Wednesday night, and the Celtics stymied the Warriors en route to a convincing 110-88 road win.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown poured in 26 apiece, Marcus Smart added 20 and 8 assists and 10 different Celtics scored. The Warriors shot just 37.2 percent from the floor and 22.9 percent from distance.
Golden State scored just 17 points in the first quarter, 15 in the second and 19 in the fourth. The Warriors hung around thanks to a 37-point third, but the Celtics overpowered them the bulk of the night.
“They’ve got some talented guys on this team that can do some amazing things,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin. “We just wanted to be there to make everything that they did hard.”
Boston (42-28) held Golden State (47-23) to 29.3 percent shooting from the field and 16.7 percent from 3-point range in the first half to build a commanding 48-32 advantage.
Steph Curry exited with left foot soreness late in the half and didn’t return after Smart appeared to land on him while diving for a loose ball. Warriors coach Steve Kerr took umbrage with the way Smart approached the play, and they spoke about it for some time on the sideline. Smart also scissor-kicked Klay Thompson to prevent a layup moments later.
Smart said the play with Curry was unintentional and that it’s killing him to see him hurt. He understands that Kerr had to “back up his guy.”
“Everybody who knows me knows I’m not trying to hurt anybody,” Smart said.
WATCH the play in question that led to interaction between Kerr and Smart pic.twitter.com/P5rW5HOpiC— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 17, 2022
Thompson was minus-21 in the half and Otto Porter Jr., Jordan Poole and Damion Lee shot a combined 3-for-19. Robert Williams had 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, Brown added 14 points and Tatum had 11 points and 7 boards, as Boston used its length to suffocate Golden State.
The Celtics looked every bit the part of the best defensive team in the NBA, as the Warriors had their lowest-scoring first half of the season. “We set the tone from the start. The physicality was great,” Ime Udoka said.
Boston extended its lead to 67-43 midway through the third, but the Warriors closed on an extended 26-12 run to slice it to 79-69 Celtics heading to the fourth. Jordan Poole did his best Curry impersonation in Curry’s absence, erupting for 19 in the third quarter alone, as the Celtics reverted to some of their old habits at an inopportune time.
Payton Pritchard caught fire early in the fourth, though, and Tatum helped put the game away. Sam Hauser and Nik Stauskas even got in on the fun as the Celtics bounced back in style following a tough loss to the Mavericks.