Celtics

Celtics unpredictable as ever, thump Warriors 128-95

Celtics unpredictable as ever, thump Warriors 128-95

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Well, the Boston Celtics-Golden State game was a blowout . . . but not exactly how most expected. 

It was the Celtics, a team that came in struggling to compete let alone win games, jumped on the Warriors earlier and never let up in what was easily their best win of the season, a 128-95 blowout over the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. 

While it is far too soon to say what kind of domino effect a win of this caliber will have on the Celtics going forward, it was the kind of game that laid out the blueprint this team needs to focus on going forward if they are to start playing with the kind of consistency a team so many predicted would be among the last teams standing. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s victory over the Golden State:

STARS

Gordon Hayward: Easily Gordon Hayward’s best “big-game” performance, finishing with a team-high 30 points. He becomes just the third Celtics player to score 30 or more points off the bench three or more times in the same season.

Stephen Curry: It was a relatively lackluster night for the two-time MVP. But even on nights like that, he still puts up good numbers. Curry led the Warriors with 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting with four assists.

Kyrie Irving: It was one of Kyrie Irving’s better balancing act-like performances as he finished with a double-double of 19 points and 11 assists.

☘️ CELTICS 128, WARRIORS 95

STUDS

Jayson Tatum: For most of the game, Jayson Tatum played with the kind of steady, aggressive demeanor at both ends of the floor that Boston needs to see more of going forward. He would finish with 17 points and five rebounds.

Jaylen Brown: It was a good sign that on a night when Gordon Hayward was dominant, the Celtics still got a strong game from Jaylen Brown who had 18 points off the bench on 8-for-16 shooting from the field.

Kevin Durant: The perennial All-Star didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (5-for-16), but spent a good bit of time at the free throw line and tallied 18 points.

DUDS

DeMarcus Cousins: Even before he got into a brief shooving match with Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier, Cousins was not on his game. At. All. He scored 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting while committing five personal fouls. 

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Celtics at Home: Kemba Walker ready to go when NBA restarts, and a Celtics Census rematch

Celtics at Home: Kemba Walker ready to go when NBA restarts, and a Celtics Census rematch

The return of the NBA is finally starting to feel real.

All 22 teams heading to Orlando, Fla. for the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA campaign have been given their eight-game schedules for the remainder of the regular season. The Boston Celtics are set to open with a July 31 matchup against the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks. You can check out their full schedule here.

On a new episode of NBC Sports Boston's "Celtics At Home," A. Sherrod Blakely chatted with Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine about how coach Brad Stevens and the C's are feeling as they look ahead to the season restart.

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"This season for them feels like a restart. And when you think about the fact that last time we saw those guys play was pre-St. Patrick's Day back in the middle of March and here we are already in summer, it certainly has that feel," said Blakely. "The one thing I thought was very encouraging was the fact that the players who have been tested recently, none of them have tested positive for coronavirus which means they're going to go in there with their full allotment of players available ... 

"So the Celtics team that we would have liked to have seen fully healthy, that's the team that we're going to see going into the bubble."

One player who wasn't healthy when the season was halted was Kemba Walker, who was dealing with a nagging knee injury. The league's four-month hiatus has been a blessing for the C's guard as he's been able to recover from the injury.

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"I think Kemba's going into this thing with a double-down mindset of redemption," Blakely said. "He didn't like the way he was playing near the end of the season, and part of that had to do with the fact that that knee just wasn't right.

"So for him, I think that is going to be added motivation for him to be effective. And the elephant in the room when it comes to Kemba, what's he going to do in the playoffs? It's not like he's been there a ton of times. I think those two things are really going to drive Kemba to play some of the best basketball we've seen from him as a Boston Celtic."

This episode of "Celtics at Home" also included another entertaining game of "Celtics Census" with Abby Chin and Kendrick Perkins taking on Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine. You can check out the full show below:

Celtics Talk Podcast: How motivated is Kemba Walker to bounce back?

Celtics Talk Podcast: How motivated is Kemba Walker to bounce back?

Kemba Walker will have a chip on his shoulder when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes later this month.

The Boston Celtics point guard had a disappointing finish to the campaign prior to it being put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Walker dealt with a nagging knee injury and struggled to put up the consistent numbers he's capable of producing.

That's why the NBA's four-month hiatus could be a blessing in disguise for Walker and the C's when they return to action in Orlando, Fla. The time off gave Walker much-needed time to let his knee recover, and having him at full strength could be the key for Boston as it looks to make a run for Banner No. 18.

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Walker recently explained how much the NBA layoff helped him return to form.

"It was super important for me," said Walker. "I really, really needed that break. It definitely helped me get back to myself and start to feel comfortable on my knee. It was a very unfortunate time but it was in my best interest for sure. So yeah, I'm pretty comfortable with the way the schedule is and I'm just going to keep on taking care of myself. That's really all I can do. So I'm just going to stay on top of things and take it day by day."

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In a brand new episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Kyle Draper discussed Walker's importance to the C's going forward and how motivated the 30-year-old will be after his tough finish to the pre-pandemic part of the season.

"When you look at the roster, when you look at their core guys, there's only one guy that was on the load management train near the end of the stoppage of play, and that's Kemba Walker," Blakely said. "He's so important to this team but the thing that I like about Kemba Walker is I think he's embraced the fact that as much as he's had to carry the load this time of year in the few times he's been in the playoffs, he doesn't have to be that guy this time around.

"I think he's going to come in with an edge and an attitude. He did not finish the pre-pandemic stage of the season playing great basketball. He's pissed about that. He knows that there are going to be questions of whether he's really ready for the playoffs because he's never been in a situation like this where there are actual expectations for success. I think we're going to see the best Kemba Walker that we've seen all season."

Forsberg agreed with Blakely's assessment, stressing how imperative it will be to have a healthy Kemba operating at 100 percent when the C's begin the postseason.

"Tatum was so good for the last couple of months that it's easy to forget how bad Kemba was at the finish line there," Forsberg said. "It wasn't by the fault of his own, but he was so good through 46 games and then the knee flared, he had to get those injections, he had to take nine games off and he just wasn't the same player.

"I think we all know if the Celtics are going to have any chance Kemba's got to be at a high level. If he can get back to being anywhere near the guy he was at the start of the season, the one that was setting everybody up, who was shooting 38.8 percent from the 3-point arc. That Kemba's going to be really, really important in the playoffs."

Also in the new episode, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens shared his mindset heading into the "bubble," whether he believes the winner of this year's NBA championship should get an asterisk, and much more.

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.