On Thursday night, the Boston Celtics faced off with the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden in what could potentially be the last time the two teams play each other this season. The matchup marked the first time the Warriors had been in Boston since clinching Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals. “The mental edge Golden State has on Boston” storyline has been frequently used in the media as a measuring stick for this year’s Celtics squad, and understandably so after losing three straight last summer and their first rematch in San Francisco over a month ago.
While it was an all-around ugly offensive game from both Boston and Golden State, the Celtics managed to exorcise some demons with a clutch 121-118 win over the Warriors. Boston extends their win streak to eight games, while hopefully showing the elephant in the room the door.
“It felt like a playoff game,” said Jaylen Brown after the Celtics comeback win. “I don’t know about you guys, but their intensity, their force, the way they came out, that’s a game I’m sure they wanted to win....To be able to have poise to battle back, that shows a lot of growth that we’ve made. We’ve been taking steps in the right direction.”
Boston outrebounded the Warriors 63-to-47 by being bigger (head coach Joe Mazzulla fielded last year’s starting lineup for the first time this season) and more physical. The Celtics had three players rebound in the double digits, including Jayson Tatum, who pulled down a career-high 19 rebounds, one shy of having the first 20 points/20 rebounds game since Jared Sullinger in 2014. The last Celtics player before Sully to do so? Kevin Garnett, on November 2nd, 2007, in his Celtics debut at TD Banknorth Garden.
In his first game back since being sidelined with an adductor strain, Jaylen Brown looked a player who hadn’t been playing basketball for a week, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-18 shooting, including 1-of-4 from three to go along with 9 rebounds, three assists, two turnovers, and a steal. The lone three-point shot that Brown hit, however, was a massive one, tying the game at 106 apiece and forcing overtime. After a sluggish start in the matchup, Brown scored 7 points on 3-of-6 shooting with 6 rebounds and a steal in the fourth quarter; he would go on to shoot 2-of-3 from the field with a rebound and two assists in overtime.
“You could feel it in the Garden. The energy level was high,” said Brown of the playoff atmosphere Thursday night. “The fans were excited. We came ready to play. They came ready to play. Two good teams, and we just battled it out.”
When the shots weren’t falling and the offense sputtered, the Celtics did what good teams do: they locked in and gutted out a grueling win by any means necessary. It wasn’t pretty, but by all accounts, showed the team themselves what they’re capable, even when the offense falls off a cliff.
On the game tying bucket, Jaylen Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin that, “we just needed a big basket, and we were down three. Smart made a good play, and I just let it fly. I hadn’t been in rhythm the whole game, but just focused on the next play, got an open look and knocked it down.”
Brown might have been a little out of sorts, but his massive shot swung the game back Boston’s way, and gave them the chance to finally put some ghosts to bed. The Celtics will look to keep things rolling as they head to Toronto to take on the Raptors Saturday night, 5 pm EST tipoff.