Size Advantage: Even without the Warriors opting to start small, the Celtics are the bigger team, and they properly exploited that advantage in Games 1 and 3 of the Finals last year. Tonight, they made it a point to attack the basket, with 10 of their 11 first-quarter field goals coming in the paint. Boston’s success this season has centered around its three-point shooting, but tonight, their pounding of the paint made Steve Kerr second guess his decision of not starting Kevon Looney. Robert Williams dominated the end of the half, scoring nine points in the final two-and-a-half minutes.
Horford’s Start: Al Horford asserted himself from the opening tip, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds in his first eight minutes of play. Leveraging his size against smaller Golden State front line, Horford twice made the “too small” gesture, which I’ve never seen him do. He clearly was not well versed in it, as his hand barely went below his waist, and he didn’t look comfortable doing it (he’s gotta watch some Patrick Beverley film). He also had this outstanding block on what looked like a definite Jordan Poole layup:
AL HORFORD CHASEDOWN REJECTION— NBA (@NBA) January 20, 2023
He's hooping right now on TNT ‼️ pic.twitter.com/BHVonlsP1M
Brogdon from the bench: Malcolm Brogdon has been on fire in the 2023 calendar year, and with him in the game, the Celtics went on a 13-2 run to open the 2nd quarter, as he hit two threes and grabbed four rebounds. If he keeps up his strong play for a few more weeks, he’ll establish himself as the frontrunner for 6th Man of the Year.
Warriors Saved by the Deep Ball: Golden State had a brick-tastic first half, but the three-ball kept them close. The Warriors shot under 30 percent from two-point range but having two of the NBA’s greatest long-range shooters ensures that slumps don’t last long. Klay Thompson hit four 3’s, three of which came from the right wing. After a slow start to the season, Klay has come alive over the past month, and tonight has the feeling of him going for 40. Steph Curry didn’t have a particularly memorable first half (besides his last shot), but that doesn’t make the Celtics any less scared of him.