Rising to the Top of the League

Remember all of those people who said the Celtics couldn’t beat the Warriors because they just weren’t good enough? That their 13-game winning streak didn’t mean much because their opponents were easy (a paraphrasing of Charles Barkley’s words during the pregame show on TNT)? Well, they were obviously wrong! The Cs stunned the defending champions, defeating them 92-88. Yes, you read that right. The Cs held the #1 offense in the league to 88 points, the lowest the team has ever scored when their ‘Big 4’ start (Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green).
The Warriors blew a 17 point lead and it is the second time this year that they’ve blown a lead that big. They fell apart in the second half and made a lot of mistakes. But let’s give credit to the Celtic’s defense that forced those mistakes, namely due to Marcus Smarts’ defensive play in the third quarter. Golden State was held to 40.2% shooting and 31.3% from three. Now, here comes to funny part: the Celtics only shot 32.9% from the floor and 21.9% from three… and they still won! They should definitely be proud of themselves for pulling out the 14th straight win, but the Warriors have to be absolutely embarrassed.
Jaylen Brown, who played after the death of a very close friend, provided the inspiration his team needed to keep fighting. He was the difference maker in the third, hitting a few clutch threes to help the Cs go on a 19-0 run and eventually finishing with 22 points (along with a swift steal off of Steph Curry and monster dunk early on). Kyrie Irving ditched his mask late in the game and finished with 16 points, making some clutch free throws late. And don’t forget Horford (18 points), Morris (12 points) and Tatum (12 points) who also came through for the team after only having 12 points off of the bench. Two of Tatum’s 12 points were extremely significant, coming with just seconds left on the clock to seal the deal and put the Cs up by four.
The ‘Big4’ looked pretty small if you ask me. Steph Curry was held to 9 points, shooting 3-14 overall and 2-9 from three. Klay Thompson hit two late three’s that put the Warriors up late, but it wasn’t enough. Draymond Green only had 11 points (and surprisingly no technicals). Kevin Durant’s 24-point performance was the only exception, but didn’t matter this time due to below average offensive production by his teammates. Being the #1 offense didn’t help last night, and there will be other times when it won’t. You can’t just hope to outscore opponents (the Warriors have given up 100+ points in 12 of their 15 games). At some point, defense has to become a priority as well, and Brad Stevens’ Celtics have the perfect formula. Who’s the best team in the league now?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s