Admit One: Celts Enter League of Their Own in GS

OAKLAND – There is a list – an exclusive one – of teams that have beaten the Golden State Warriors inside Oracle Arena during each of the past two regular seasons. Here it is:

The Boston Celtics.

Boston walked onto Golden States home court and downed the Warriors 99-86 Wednesday night behind a dominant defensive effort against the league’s most electric offense. The victory gave the C’s an unblemished 2-0 record over the last two seasons inside the NBA’s most challenging road arena and against the league’s most successful team.

“We match up well with these guys we feel like,” Jae Crowder, standing tall at his locker, told Celtics.com after the win. “We have good perimeter defense and enough inside to handle what they have. It’s just about committing to the game plan and getting it done, but we feel like we match up well with them.”

At this point, it would be impossible for the Warriors to disagree.

The Celtics are also the team that walked onto Golden State’s home court nearly a year ago, on April 1, 2016, and ended its 54-game home win streak. They’re also the team that has lost to the Warriors by five or fewer points three other times over the last three seasons.

Perimeter defense, as Crowder pointed out, is the key to Boston’s success against the vaunted Warriors. Avery Bradley, an All-Defensive First Team selection last season who should repeat again this season, and Marcus Smart, who could very well join him among the All-Defensive team ranks, team up to harass Golden State’s all-world backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson like no other duo in the league can.

Bradley and Smart view the matchup as a challenge, one they expect to win through relentless pressure and effort.

“Our goal was to try to tire their guards down,” Bradley said, later adding, “I knew if I was tired, they were tired.”

Bradley and Smart challenged each other to wear themselves down while doing the same to the Dubs’ backcourt.

“I told Marcus, I said, ‘Bro, I’m going to make sure I’m making [Thompson] take tough shots every time down,’” recalled Bradley. “That was my mindset, and he told me the same thing.”

The duo succeeded in achieving its goal.

“There was one possession I remember vividly in the third quarter,” Stevens remembered, “when we actually, I think, took one of those guys out right after that because it just looked like – they were exerting everything they had to be there on every catch.”

All one must do is take a look at the fourth-quarter box score to see how that relentless defense affected Curry and Thompson.

Curry: five minutes, zero points, 0-for 1 shooting.

Thompson: eight minutes, one point, 0-for-3 shooting.

This was like a boxing match, one Bradley and Smart won with tactical defense that acted as their offense. Every challenge they put forth on the catch was like a jab to Curry and Thompson’s guts. By the time the final round arrived, Curry and Thompson were worn down to the studs. They had nothing left to give.

“We played probably one of our best defensive games of the year,” Kelly Olynyk said of the effort, after he scored 17 points off the bench and was dubbed by Bradley as the player of the game.

Oh, what a difference one night can make. The Celtics entered Wednesday’s action riding a two-game losing streak, a streak that featured two of their most demoralizing defeats of the season. Now they exit the Bay Area having downed the top team in the league while accomplishing something no other team in the league could.

Confidence? Yeah, you could say it’s alive and well inside Boston’s locker room.

“We have the personnel to go out there and beat anybody,” a confident yet softly-spoken Bradley stated. “We have a defensive mentality as a team, and I like our chances against any team.”

After nights like these, Bradley believes, the rest of the league might be in agreement with his stance.

“We want teams to respect us in the NBA,” he said. “Wins like this, the win against Cleveland (one week ago)… I think teams respect us a lot more.”

The Celtics undeniably have earned respect by accomplishing a feat that no other team in the league has accomplished. They do understand, however, that it is all for naught if they don’t take care of business on a regular basis in the same fashion the Warriors have over the last few seasons. That is how a team gains a real reputation.

“We’re trying to get to that level to try to do that every single night,” Olynyk said, “and now we’ve got to go in to Denver and get another one.”

The Celtics will look to close out their road trip in style when they take on the Nuggets Friday night. In the meantime, should enjoy the fact that they’ve gained entry into the Multiple Wins Club at Oracle Arena over the past two seasons.

They’re officially on the list.

They officially are the list.

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