Warriors believe they could see the Celtics in NBA finals

Warriors believe they could see the Celtics in NBA finals

OAKLAND, Calif. – When you've won a pair of NBA titles within the last three years, it's hard to get too psyched up about a regular season game regardless of the opponent. 

But the Golden State Warriors made no secret about how they view the Boston Celtics who gave them all they could handle before the Warriors ultimately escaped with a 109-105 win to avoid being swept by Boston for the first time since 2012. 

“It was playoff intensity, back and forth,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry after dropping 49 points on the Celtics. “It was a fun game, it was intense, it was hard fought through, all forty-eight minutes so that is kind of what you expect in the playoffs for sure.”

Golden State coach Steve Kerr echoed similar sentiments.

“It just felt like a playoff game. High-level stuff, great defense, both teams playing incredibly hard and smart,” Kerr said. “Not a lot of turnovers. Some tremendous individual performances. The guard play was just amazing back and forth.”

For Boston, it was Kyrie Irving leading the way with 37 points while the Warriors countered with Curry dropping 49 points.

Warriors guard Shaun Livingston was not surprised to see Curry have such a big game scoring.

“Kyrie always brings out the best in him,” Livingston told NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper. “He’s one of the best point guards in the league and Boston’s one of the best teams in the league. Steph is one of the best shooters ever. As a shooter, it’s what you do. You put it up even if it’s not going in. HIs confidence is at an all-time high. We’re trying to be as good as we can be around him.”

The Celtics have a similar approach to dealing with Irving who was recently named to the league’s all-star team for the fifth time.

You can count Jaylen Brown among those not the least bit surprised at how well Irving scored the ball most of the game before finishing with 37 points.

“I’ve seen Kyrie do that against a lot of teams,” Brown said. “That’s what he does. He had a godo game tonight. He’s one of the best players in the world-type of player so he can get it going against anybody, just like Steph did.”

Indeed, the play of role players has been instrumental to both teams being at the top of their respective conferences this season.

And it’ll be a factor if they both wind up in the NBA Finals,  something the defending champion Golden State Warriors are quite comfortable discussing.

The Celtics?

Not so much.

I asked Brown about possibly seeing the Warriors down the road in the playoffs which would mean the Celtics have advanced to the NBA Finals.

“I just focus on what’s in front of me, and our team focuses on what’s in front of us,” Brown said. “That’s a long way from now, we have a lot better to get. We’ll see when we get there.”

Livingston was a bit more forthcoming when asked about the possibility of tonight’s game being an NBA Finals preview.

“They’re a good team,” Livingston said. “This is a good matchup for us. Looking at it, it’s obviously a team we could see in June. These type of tests in the season are good.”


Jayson Tatum gets no respect!

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Jayson Tatum gets no respect!

The popular narrative surrounding struggling Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum is that he’s hit the dreaded “rookie wall.” Another fun theory is that he’s been hampered by a dislocated finger suffered on December 20 vs Miami. One or both may be the cause of his dip in shooting since the start of this calendar year (he went from 58.5 eFG percent in 2017 to 46.2 eFG percent in 2018). But another factor could be respect, or the lack thereof, for Tatum when driving to the hoop.


From October through December, Tatum averaged 4.6 drives per game, coming away with points on 77 percent of those drives (fourth in the NBA). A lot of those points came at the line, as Tatum drew a foul on an NBA-leading 15 percent of his trips to the basket. Since January 1, Tatum is averaging 6.5 drives per game, but is only coming away with points on 55 percent of those drives. Oddly, the Celtics forward is only drawing a foul on 6 percent of his drives over that span, which is 67th in the NBA.

It’s hard to say why he’s no longer getting fouls, but the lack of respect is definitely impacting his overall efficiency. Hopefully the zebras will start treating Tatum like the obvious future Hall of Famer he is in the final stretch of the season.


Hawks may buy out Ilyasova; would Celts be interested?

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Hawks may buy out Ilyasova; would Celts be interested?

A buyout seems to be looming for the Atlanta Hawks power forward Ersan Ilyasova. 

The 6-foot-10 inch forward is averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 46 games played this season. He's on a one-year, $6 million contract with the Hawks.

If he hits the open market, as seems likely, he might be worth a look from the Celtics. A stretch forward who can make 3-pointers is a notable addition to any team.

Ilyasova could ultimately add some size and depth to a guard-heavy Celtics team that's looking to make a deep playoff run come April.