Game Preview: Warriors at Celtics
BOSTON – They’re finally home.
The Boston Celtics (30-27) return to TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. tonight when they host Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors (33-25). This will be Boston’s first home game since Feb. 13, as the team had a substantial road trip out West following the All-Star break.
Tonight's matchup is a great way for basketball to return to the Garden. The Celtics are coming off of three days of rest following a big win in Utah. Fans will also have a chance to watch one of the league’s top young stars in Curry, who is coming off of a 54-point performance Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden.
Curry went off against the Knicks but Golden State still fell 109-105. That was the Warriors’ second consecutive loss, which left them with a woeful 4-8 record in the month of February.
That record is quite surprising given Golden State’s 29-17 record over the first three months of the season. The Warriors had been this year’s version of last year's Pacers. Their young talent had seemingly taken the next step to put the team in the conversation as one of the best squads in the Western Conference.
Curry has a lot to do with that. He averages a team-high 21.9 points per game, which is tops among five Warriors players who score in double-figures. Curry is making 46.0 percent of his 3-pointers this season and his 11 3s at MSG fell just one short of the NBA record.
“Listen, he can shoot, and he has a quick release,” Doc Rivers said of Curry on Thursday. “And he scores in more than one way.”
Curry’s success is due in large part to a deep rotation that surrounds him. The Celtics learned of that depth the hard way when these teams first met on Dec. 29 in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors won that game 101-83 and had four players not named Curry score at least 13 points. David Lee scored 20 to go along with five rebounds and rookie Harrison Barnes logged 15 points and eight boards.
That was just about the low point of Boston’s season. The Warriors dropped the Celtics to 14-15 on the year and the C’s also lost the following night in Sacramento. Since then, they’ve been revived.
Boston has gone 16-11 since the calendar turned over thanks to fantastic defense and team play. They are coming off of a trip out West that finished with a 2-3 record but they were just a few bounces away from winning four of those five games.
Boston is certainly playing strong basketball, and now the team can return to TD Garden after recharging its batteries for the past three days.
Integrating the New Pieces
The Celtics will enter tonight’s game with two brand new players and another two who have only participated in a total of three Celtics games. D.J. White and Shavlik Randolph are eligible to play in their first game with Boston after signing with the C’s on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Jordan Crawford and Terrence Williams continue to learn the Celtic Way.
Three of those four players participated in their first full-scale Celtics practice on Thursday. The system is still fresh in their minds but the hope is that they will be able to execute enough tonight to provide meaningful minutes.
David Lee is Back
Lee got into it with Pacers center Roy Hibbert on Tuesday. The two were involved in a shoving match that wound up tumbling into the first few rows of courtside seats. Both players were suspended for one game, with Lee serving his suspension Wednesday night in New York.
Lee will be back in the lineup tonight against Boston. He is a two-time All-Star who is very important to this Warriors team. Lee leads all NBA players in double-doubles this season with 37 thanks to his averages of 19.0 PPG and 11.1 RPG. The Celtics had no answers for him back in December when Lee made 10 of his 15 shot attempts.
Bradley vs. Curry
Avery Bradley may be the best on-ball defender in the league. That’s a great asset for Boston, as they can toss him onto the league’s best scorers in an attempt to slow those players down.
Bradley will spend most of tonight hounding Curry. Rivers mentioned on Thursday that opposing teams are beginning to consistently set picks on Bradley on the perimeter as they try to free up their best scorers. Golden State is likely to follow suit in that department, and it will be Bradley’s job to recover from those screens and challenge Curry’s shots.