Stars, studs and duds: Celtics play with 'poise and purpose' in win over Warriors

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics play with 'poise and purpose' in win over Warriors

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.


“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.

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

1:31 - With the results of Kyrie Irving’s second opinion on he knee looming, the Celtic’s season is certainly up in the air. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Mannix, Kyle Draper and Gary Tanguay debate how and if Kyrie should be used if he returns.

6:02 - Back in October Michael Felger prematurely said the Bruins season was over. The B’s marketing team featured Felger in an ad for playoff tickets now that the Bruins have clinched the playoffs. Felger, Trenni and Gary react to the commercial and discuss the Bruins playoff chances.

11:47 - The Patriots are making moves! on Tursday the Pats made deals with LaAdrian Waddle, Marquis Flowers and Patrick Chung. Phil Perry, Michael Holley, Troy Brown and Tom Curran discuss how despite these moves, the Patriots should still be in search of a left tackle.

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

File Photo

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

BOSTON – We live in a world filled with success stories that came about by accident. 

The invention of the microwave oven.

Post-It notes.

The creation of potato chips.

The Boston Celtics’ game-winning play against Oklahoma City earlier this week qualfies; a play in which there were multiple miscues made by the Celtics prior to Marcus Morris’ game-winning shot. 


All these Celtics injuries have made Brad Stevens a mad scientist of sorts with some unusual lineups that may be on display tonight against the guard-centric Portland Trail Blazers. 

In Boston’s 100-99 win over the Thunder on Tuesday, we saw Stevens utilize a lineup with Al Horford and Greg Monroe, in four different stints.

Monroe, who had 17 points off the bench - the most he has scored as a Celtic -  enjoyed playing with Horford.

“Al’s so smart. He’s seen it all in this league,” Monroe told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s an all-star. Very cerebral player, unselfish. So it’s easy playing with him. He can space, drive, make plays. I feel like I can make plays, driving. It’s fun playing with him. I look forward to getting out there with him more.”

Horford had similar praise for playing with Monroe.

“Coach (Brad Stevens) made a great move bringing Greg back in, in the fourth, playing us together,” Horford said. “He made some great plays, passing the ball and just … timely plays. It’s one of those things, the more we play with each other the more comfortable we’ll get. I thought it was very positive.”

Monroe’s role has become significantly more important with the season-ending injury (torn meniscus, left knee) to Daniel Theis. And his ability to play well with various lineups will only improve Boston’s chances of weathering this latest storm of injuries which comes on the eve of the playoffs. 

And while there’s a certain amount of pleasure all players take in being on a playoff-bound team, Monroe understands better than most NBA veterans just how special it is to be headed towards the postseason.

In his eighth season, this will only be Monroe’s second time participating in the playoffs. 

The first time? 

That was last year, with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“This is what everybody plays for, I hope,” Monroe said. “This is what I play for, to get into the postseason, make a run. It’s the best situation. I’ve been through a lot in my career, this year. I’m grateful. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”

And he has done that lately.

Monroe comes into tonight’s game having scored in double figures each of the last four games, a season high for the 6-foot-11 center. 

Having spent most of his NBA career watching instead of participating in the playoffs, Monroe is out to prove that he can in fact be a significant contributor to a team that’s postseason-bound.

“For sure. You have to have a little chip, a little fire, at least in my eyes,” Monroe said. “I’ve never doubted myself. It’s about being between those lines and being the best player I can be. That’s what I’m focused on.”