As the Warriors were rampaging through the 2015-16 season, winning an NBA-record 73 games, no team played them tougher than the Boston Celtics.
Indeed it was the Celtics who avenged a double-overtime loss last December in Boston by coming back in April to win in Oakland that snapped the Warriors’ home win streak at a league-record 54 games.
Those memories almost certainly will be in the back of the minds of members of both teams when they meet Friday night at TD Garden.
The Warriors (9-2) enter the second game of a four-game road trip seeking their sixth consecutive victory, while the Celtics (6-5), who have encountered injuries to several key players, have yet to win more than two in a row.
The Warriors are coming off a 127-121 win at Toronto, while Boston’s last game was a 90-83 victory over Dallas.
Warriors by 7
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Isaiah Thomas: Even when he was in Sacramento, Thomas always was pumped to face Curry. That won’t change now that their annual battles have been reduced from four to two. If anything, All-Star status may have given Thomas additional incentive to come at the MVP. The winner likely dictates the outcome of the game.
Warriors: C Damian Jones (R pectoral surgery recovery) is listed as out.
Celtics: C Al Horford (concussion protocol) and F Jae Crowder (L ankle sprain) are listed as out.
The teams split two games last season. The Warriors have won six of the last eight overall, dating back to the 2012-13 season.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1) The backcourts. Though Curry and Thomas will duel at the point, the Celtics are sure to give defensive ace Avery Bradley and maybe even Marcus Smart significant time against Curry. Klay Thompson has a height advantage over Boston’s top three guards. Will he be able to find soft spots in the Boston D?
2) The rookies. The Celtics stunned fans by using the third pick of the 2016 draft to take Cal product Jaylen Brown. The Warriors bought the 38th pick in the draft and with it acquired Pat McCaw. Both wings have gotten significant playing time, though, and could match up on occasion.
3) The bigs. With Horford out, Boston last week went with 7-foot Kelly Olynyk at center. He, too, is a legitimate stretch-5, making as many as five triples in a game. That could limit the floor time of Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia. It also would allow the Warriors to be even more willing to “go small.”