3/16 Game Preview: Celtics at Warriors
The Boston Celtics have an opportunity to avenge one of their more unusual losses of the season when they visit the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night.
The clubs met in Boston in December, a game in which the Celtics outshot the Warriors both overall and on 3-pointers, made three more free throws and battled the visitors to a 45-all standoff on the boards.
Yet somehow the Warriors won, 111-107.
The four-point difference matched the amount of points the Warriors scored in the final second of the first half, when Stephen Curry was deemed to have been fouled by Marcus Smart on a 50-foot, buzzer-beating heave that was off the mark.
Celtics coach Ime Udoka complained about the call and was nailed with a technical foul, adding a fourth free throw to Curry's plate. He made all four, accounting for the eventual margin of victory.
The Celtics have rebounded just fine. They were 14-15 at the time and eventually slipped to 18-21 before winning 23 of their past 30 games.
They went 10-6 in January (tied for the eighth-best record in the NBA) and 9-2 in February (second-best behind Utah's 8-1), and have begun March with five wins in six games, even after losing their most recent outing 95-92 at home against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Celtics now embark on a very reasonable four-game trip that includes matchups with the Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder, sandwiching a date with the Denver Nuggets.
"Our goal is to play as well as we have been and let it carry over onto the road trip," Udoka said of his team's second western swing. They went 1-4 on the first in December.
"We've been talking about improving through the month of March. Our easy goal is to play better than on the last West Coast trip. We've obviously improved since then."
The Celtics, who imported Derrick White and Daniel Theis at the trade deadline, will give the Warriors a different look than the one they saw in December. But Golden State will do the same, with Klay Thompson having returned from his 2 1/2-year absence.
Draymond Green, who faced the Celtics in December, saw his first action since early January in the Warriors' 126-112 home win over the Washington Wizards on Monday. Returning from a disc issue in his back, Green made the most of 20 minutes off the bench, contributing six points, seven rebounds and six assists to Golden State's fourth straight win.
He also played a major role in Stephen Curry's 47-point night, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
"The game changed immediately when he got out there in a lot of different ways," he said. "It changed for Steph right away as soon as Draymond got out there; I think he had an assist to him like five seconds in. The chessboard changes with Draymond out there with Steph.
"Everything looks and feels a little bit different and it's tougher to navigate defensively for our opponent. I haven't even mentioned his defense yet. ... Draymond changes everything for us."
Green had eight assists and Curry 30 points in the earlier win in Boston.