Pregame Post-Ups: Adjusting to Game Plan vs. Warriors

Saturday, Jan. 27 - Celtics at Warriors

Pregame – Game Plan vs. Golden State is Still New to Most C's

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Boston Celtics may be 3-2 against the Golden State Warriors over the last two-plus seasons, but this current Celtics team is only 1-0.

Brad Stevens has alluded to that fact for two straight days.

“The biggest thing that’s unique for us,” Stevens said prior to Saturday’s matchup, “is that we’ve had so much change that this is really only the second time that this team has played against the Warriors as far as how we want to play at both ends of the floor.”

Stevens made the same observation following his team’s practice Friday afternoon.

Of the 12 players who are with the Celtics in Oakland, only three of them, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, have played more than one game against Golden State under Stevens and within the Celtics system.

Stevens has crafted a very particular game plan against this Warriors team that has been successful over the last few seasons. He would never share his secrets publicly, but he did acknowledge that all of his new players are working to adjust to his instructions against Golden State.

“Every team that you prepare for has different strengths,” he explained. “These guys just have a lot more of them than most teams. So you’ve got to do your best to take away what you think you can take away, and you’re going to have to live with some other things.”

Stevens also mentioned reserve guard Shane Larkin for the second consecutive day as a key player within Boston’s defense. Larkin appears to be on track to garner increased playing time over the next two weeks while defensive stalwart Marcus Smart recovers from hand lacerations.

“He’s been a guy that has been very reliable no matter when called upon,” Stevens said of Larkin, shortly after noting that Larkin was the player who sparked the team to its first win of the season on Oct. 20, which ignited a 16-game win streak. “This is obviously a challenge because he’s going to be guarding guys with greater size, especially off their bench, but he’s been great on both ends of the floor.”

Boston’s young players, from Larkin, Brown and Rozier, all the way down to Jayson Tatum and Semi Ojeleye, must attack this game with mental fortitude, according to Stevens. So, too, must the new acquisitions like Kyrie Irving and Aron Baynes. Golden State will force the Celtics to bend, but they cannot break.

“There’s going to be times where this place really gets rocking,” Stevens said of Oracle Arena, “and these guys really are tremendous at going on big runs, and you’ve got to be able to withstand some of that. You recognize that they’re going to hit some shots that other people, quite frankly, don’t hit, and you go down, and you just have to execute, score, be opportunistic in transition, but realize that you’re playing a possession game.”

This is a matchup that requires poise, and as Stevens said, the Celtics must play with a purpose. They must execute the game plan that Stevens and his staff have built, even if that game plan is relatively foreign to all of Boston’s new players.

- Marc D'Amico