Sports

Celtics take Warriors’ greatest punches and combat again


The Golden State Warriors entered the sequence opener with 123 extra mixed video games of NBA Finals expertise than the Boston Celtics and left with the worst fourth-quarter disparity on this stage’s historical past.

In between, the Celtics seemed misplaced, staggering from a classic Stephen Curry warmth test within the opening quarter and a traditional Golden State landslide within the third, solely to seek out themselves on a 17-0 run that swung Game 1, home-court benefit and doubtlessly the tenor of this championship sequence in a 120-108 win.

“We’ve been counted out all year. Rightfully so,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart mentioned, following a comeback victory that resembled his crew’s exceptional turnaround from a midseason afterthought. “We’ve had moments, but we continue to fight. That’s who we are. Over the last couple months, that’s our identity.”

The revamped Warriors seemed just like the Warriors of outdated. Less than three minutes into their night time, Curry discovered Klay Thompson for a transition 3-pointer and did not hassle to observe it go in. The two-time MVP’s errant last-second heave broke a streak of seven straight makes, together with a document six 3-pointers, in a private 21-point first quarter. Chase Center was rocking, as if it was Oracle Arena internet hosting LeBron James in 2015.

If ever there was a possibility to fold following consecutive seven-game sequence and 4,500 miles logged within the earlier three days, it was below the stress of a three-time champion’s preliminary flex exceeding its hype.

Where so many have wilted, the Celtics stared down Curry as he plugged into the gang, electrifying the Bay Area as soon as extra, they usually let the shock put on off. Between Curry’s fifth and sixth 3-pointers, a Derrick White triple and a Jayson Tatum three-point play stored Boston inside 32-28 on the finish of the primary quarter.

You nonetheless could not assist however surprise if first-year Celtics coach Ime Udoka was already trying to find solutions to begin the second quarter, when he rolled out Tatum, Payton Pritchard, Grant Williams, White and Daniel Theis, who beforehand performed solely 15 unproductive playoff minutes collectively. The Warriors prolonged their result in 10, focusing on Boston reserves who not often even noticed the court docket within the Eastern Conference finals.

The Celtics known as a timeout, reinserted a beginning lineup that dominated opponents by 24.6 factors per 100 possessions all through the common season and countered with the most effective punch of their repertoire. The size and quickness of Boston’s top-rated protection extinguished Golden State’s flammable offense. Over the ultimate 8:37 of the second quarter, the Celtics closed on a 19-7 run to enter halftime with a 56-54 lead.

The crowd was not silenced, nor have been the Warriors, nevertheless it was honest warning to not toy with this foe.

“A lot of guys have played a lot of big basketball throughout their careers,” mentioned White, who completed with 21 factors. “May not be the Finals, but the thing about this group is we love to hoop, so we’re ready to go.”

The Boston Celtics celebrate their fourth-quarter comeback against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics have a good time their fourth-quarter comeback towards the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Golden State threw one other haymaker, the type of third-quarter barrage that had buried each Western Conference playoff opponent Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green confronted for eight years. The ball discovered anybody open, and everybody delivered, outscoring the Celtics 38-24 within the third. Andrew Wiggins’ 12 factors doubled the output of Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who have been 1 for 10 within the quarter and 9 for 31 by way of three.

Golden State even dusted off Andre Iguodala to drill his customary dagger on the finish of the third. His 3-pointer gave the Warriors a 92-78 lead, and win chance fashions pegged them for a 95% likelihood to win.

Only, Brown led a counterattack, scoring or helping Boston’s first 14 factors of the fourth quarter to attract inside 97-94 earlier than the Warriors knew what hit them. After Curry finger rolled his thirty fourth and closing factors of the night time, White and Al Horford’s 4 straight 3-pointers ignited a 17-0 run. Celtics not named Tatum made their first 11 photographs of the ultimate quarter, together with seven 3-pointers, to steal a 109-103 lead inside of 5 minutes.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Smart delivered the knockout. As Boston’s lead ballooned to 120-105, Warriors coach Steve Kerr emptied his bench, surprised by a 41-16 bludgeoning that marked essentially the most lopsided closing body ever within the Finals. Golden State now should get off the mat earlier than Sunday’s encore.

“Obviously, you go into Game 2 with more of a sense of desperation,” mentioned Kerr.

“We pretty much dominated the game for the first 41, 42 minutes, so we’ll be fine, added Green, forgetting his team trailed at halftime and convincing himself his team has the upper hand in a series he trails 1-0.

When the clock struck zeroes, the better-rested and more experienced Warriors had shot 42% on 45 3-point attempts. Curry finished with 34 points, everyone but Jordan Poole in his supporting cast found level ground, and the hosts still could not clear a path to victory. They threw some of their best punches and lost.

The Celtics, meanwhile, pulled one of theirs, as Tatum made just three of his 17 shots. (The first team All-NBA forward did distribute a career-high 13 assists.) Horford, White and Smart will not make 15 of their 23 3-point attempts again, even if most were open, but Boston can bank on Tatum being better. If the defense can perform closer to the version that held Curry to 13 points on 16 shots over the final three quarters than the one that inexplicably played drop coverage on him in the first, Golden State has cause for concern.

As if losing for the first time in 10 home games to a team that is now 8-2 on the road isn’t alarming already.

“Knowing we will play so a lot better, that is the principle factor,” Udoka said, detailing defensive mistakes. “Didn’t have a terrific three quarters and stored ourselves within the sport, then locked down after we wanted to.”

If institutional knowledge was to be a difference-maker in this series, these Warriors failed their first test, while the Celtics learned an essential lesson: What they do works, no matter who or where the opponent.

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Ben Rohrbach is a employees author for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or comply with him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach




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