SAN FRANCISCO -- The first regular-season rematch of last season's NBA Finals between the Warriors and Boston Celtics was guaranteed to be a battle. It certainly was, and the final outcome might come as a surprise to many.
Though the Warriors are the reigning champions, having beat the Celtics for the ultimate prize six months ago, Boston has been the best team in the NBA this season. As the Warriors try to figure out who exactly they are, the Celtics have looked like a cohesive unit whose offseason upgrades have paid off in major ways. Meanwhile, the Warriors have been a team whose puzzle has been missing pieces.
Under the bright lights, the Warriors gave everyone a stern reminder Saturday night at Chase Center with their 123-107 win: Until proven otherwise, they're still the champs and everyone else still is looking up with hopes of reaching their heights.
The Splash Brothers of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson led the way, combining to score 66 points on 55.3 percent shooting as a whole, and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc. Adding to a winning formula was Jordan Poole with 20 points, Kevon Looney grabbing 15 rebounds and role players like Donte DiVincenzo being a plus-20 in plus/minus off the bench by providing eight rebounds and non-stop energy.
The Warriors improved to 14-13 on the season. No win has been bigger than again taking down the Celtics.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors' statement victory on their home court.
Klay Under Control
One thing was clear Saturday in San Francisco: Thompson was a man on a mission. Not to throw up wild shots and rack up points. But to make up for his costly mistake of falling asleep late in the Warriors' loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.
What was most encouraging was how Thompson scored his points early on. He put up 12 first-quarter points, and none came from 3-pointers. The sharpshooter went 5-for-9 from the field, tipped in two points and made both of his free throws.
Nothing was rushed. Thompson was in total control, and that continued on as the night progressed.
By halftime, Thompson was up to 24 points, his fifth-most for an entire game this season. That also gave him more points than he scored in five of the six Finals games last season. He scored another 10 points in the third quarter, giving him his second 30-plus scoring night so far this season.
In the end, Thompson scored a game-high 34 points while going 14-for-26 from the field and 4-for-11 from deep. He now has scored 20 or more points in four straight games, his longest such streak since 2019. Mission accomplished.
The Steph Factor
Whether they're cursing him out from Chase Center, at their homes in Boston or at a local pub, Celtics fans have to be sick of Curry. Many felt the Celtics were the better team last season. Boston didn't have Curry, though.
Saturday night was a reminder that there's only one Steph. And that usually comes with at least a little bit of sizzle. For Curry, that means a no-look buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter -- giving the crowd plenty to cheer about.
Curry started out feeling the Celtics' defense, figuring out how best to dissect them. By the end, his tools cut the defense into pieces. Curry scored 32 points -- 17 in the first half and 15 in the second. He went 12-for-21 overall and 6-for-11 from long range, also adding seven assists and six rebounds.
If there's one thing the Celtics can be happy about right now, it's the fact that they only have to see No. 30 once more this season.
Ultimate Learning Experience
With Andrew Wiggins out against the Celtics due to his right adductor strain, much of the focus turned to 20-year-old Jonathan Kuminga. Some even thought Kuminga might start to match up with Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Instead, he made his presence felt against said stars with 21 impactful minutes off the bench.
Taking advantage of another opportunity, Kuminga scored 14 points, efficiently going 6-for-9 from the field. Impacting the game in more ways than one, Kuminga also had five rebounds and three assists.
Kuminga's most eye-opening moment of the night came against Tatum. The Warriors' young forward tried to back Tatum down on the post, but eventually had the ball swiped away. His recovery couldn't have been better. Kuminga grabbed the ball and in a flashed showcased his out-of-this-world athleticism with a strong dunk on Tatum.
Prior to tipoff, Steve Kerr said facing the Celtics would be Kuminga's biggest test yet. Kuminga more than passed the test, and Kerr's trust has to continue with the former lottery pick. Next up, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.
Coming into the night, the Celtics led the NBA by averaging 120.8 points per game. Kuminga's point of attack defense is a major reason why Boston fell far short of that number. The Jonathan Kuminga Experience is getting more interesting with each game that passes.