Watch It! - Celtics at Warriors
Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors meet at 10:30 p.m. tonight at ORACLE Arena.
Tonight’s matchup at ORACLE Arena will pit two very balanced teams against each other. Both the Celtics and the Warriors have five players who are averaging double-digits in the scoring column.
Golden State is led by an up-and-coming superstar in Stephen Curry, who’s averaging 23.1 points per game this season. Two of his teammates, however, aren’t far behind. Klay Thompson scores 19.3 PPG and David Lee is averaging 19.1 PPG.
The Celtics have similar balance to the Warriors but their punch isn’t quite as strong. Jeff Green leads the team with 15.9 PPG, while Avery Bradley is second with 14.3 PPG. Jordan Crawford is a close third with 13.9 PPG.
It’s clear that the Warriors have a much more potent offense, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that both of these teams spread their points around evenly.
Toeing the Line
One thing is for certain tonight: If the Celtics want to win this game, they need to return to their dominance in defending the 3-point line.
Boston has been at or near the top of the league in defending the 3-point line this season. It has struggled to live up to that standard over its last three games. Oklahoma City, Denver and Los Angeles combined to shoot 42.5 percent against Boston over the C’s last three games, all while making an average of 11 treys per game.
It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Golden State matched or surpassed those numbers tonight. The Warriors head into tonight’s game ranked third in the league in both 3-point field goals made per game (9.4) and 3-point field goal percentage (38.8 percent).
The Celtics have slipped of late in running players off of the 3-point line. They’ll need to do a 180 in that department tonight.
The Irony of Curry
Curry is unquestionably the go-to scorer on Golden State’s roster. Ironically, numbers indicate that the Warriors aren’t necessarily a better team when he scores more points.
Curry has been a better shooter and scorer during Golden State’s losses than he has been in its wins. He averages 29.3 PPG on 45.2 percent shooting from the field and 39.3 percent shooting from 3-point range in the team’s 11 losses. On the other hand, he averages 20.3 PPG on 43.4 percent shooting from the field and 38.6 percent shooting from 3-point range in the team’s 24 wins.
Yep, it’s hard to believe what’s stated above, but those are the facts. The Celtics wouldn’t necessarily be doomed tonight if Curry goes off for a big game.
Warriors are Surging
This Warriors team wasn’t living up to expectations as recently as the middle of December. A lot has changed since then.
After falling to the Spurs on Dec. 19, which dropped Golden State to 14-13 on the season, the Warriors rattled off 10 consecutive victories. Five of those 10 wins came against teams that are currently on pace to make the playoffs.
Brooklyn ended Golden State’s streak with a four-point victory on Wednesday, but that contest doesn’t take away from how well the Warriors are playing. This team is surging forward and will be amped up to play in its home arena tonight after completing a seven-game, East Coast road trip.
Celts Need Sullinger
Jared Sulliner is a key piece of Boston’s future. He has started in 23 of the team’s 34 games this season and has played very well. However, his last two games have featured underwhelming performances.
Sullinger has scored a total of just 10 points and grabbed just 10 rebounds over his last two games. His dip in production is due in large part to foul trouble, as he was ejected from Tuesday’s game against the Nuggets after picking up two Flagrant 1 fouls, and then he battled foul trouble all night during Wednesday’s game in Los Angeles.
To put it simply, it’s going to be very tough for the Celtics to be successful without strong production out of Sullinger. They need him to be on the floor and making an impact.