OAKLAND, Calif. – Down the stretch, the Boston Celtics found themselves being carried to victory by an unfamiliar catalyst -- their defense.
Nothing stood out more in Boston’s 99-86 upset win at Golden State, the second year in a row that the Celtics have knocked off the Warriors who, like last season, had the best record in the NBA when Boston came to town.
But unlike last season’s 109-106 win on April Fool’s Day, tonight’s victory was led by the kind of defensive showing that has been rarely seen by Boston as it limited the Warriors to a season-low scoring total.
- Highlights: Boston Celtics 99, Golden State Warriors 86
- Scal: 'Celtics stuck with hard defense and it paid off'
- Isaiah Thomas praises his teammates after win
- Kelly Olynyk: 'We turned it up for this game'
“You keep those guys under 100 points, you have a great chance of winning the game,” Jae Crowder told CSNNE.com. “All five guys were engaged; we had a hell of a game plan.”
While there were a number of moving parts to the Celtics' game plan, it centered heavily around making sure there was help defensively at all times, which meant most of the shots taken by Golden State’s sharpshooters were contested.
“Our guys played with good poise and purpose,” said coach Brad Stevens.
That poise and purpose Stevens speaks of was on full display in a decisive 18-5 run to begin the fourth quarter.
A jumper banked in by Isaiah Thomas with 4:46 to play put Boston ahead 90-79. Three seconds later, Warriors coach Steve Kerr called a time-out.
But it was too late by then.
The Celtics had momentum, confidence and maybe most important, a collective mindset defensively that absolutely refused to let the Warriors back in the game.
“Our goal was to tire their guards down,” said Avery Bradley. “We did a great job of doing that. It showed because Klay Thompson down the stretch, he missed a few shots. All credit to Marcus Smart, myself, Jae . . . We were just wanting to tire those guys down.”
Bradley added: “I really felt good. That’s what it’s all about; that’s what the Celtics are about, playing hard on the defensive end.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday night’s game between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors.
Kelly Olynyk: His 17 points off the bench came on 7-for-9 shooting. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out five assists along with tallying three steals. But the most significant part of Olynyk’s game came with him simply being on the floor. Because during that time, the Celtics were a +29.
Stephen Curry: The two-time league MVP had a really efficient game with 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting with six assists and five rebounds. But Curry’s long-range game left a lot to be desired as he missed seven of his nine 3-pointers.
Isaiah Thomas: This was not his best game, but Thomas was once again able to make a number of impactful plays at both ends of the floor. He finished with a team-high 25 points along with three assists and three steals.
Klay Thompson: He came out playing well for the Warriors, with 11 first-quarter points. But the Celtics defense really clamped down on him afterwards as they limited him to just 14 points over the final three quarters as he finished with 25 points to go with six rebounds.
Jae Crowder: He had a bunch of tough, grind-it-out rebounds in addition to hitting a couple of clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. It all added up to a near double-double as he finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Draymond Green: He has had better games than what we saw on Wednesday. But to Green’s credit, he made a number of plays that kept the Warriors within striking distance for long stretches. He finished with a near double-double of 13 points and eight rebounds in addition to three steals and three blocked shots.
Warriors bench: On a night when the Golden State starters needed a lift, the bench could do nothing to give them a little extra push or a much-needed burst of energy. They totaled just 17 points which equaled the scoring of Boston backup Kelly Olynyk. But just as significant was the fact that every player who came off the bench for Golden State had a plus/minus that was either negative or zero.