C's Shock the World, Snap Warriors' Streak in GS
OAKLAND – All season long, the Golden State Warriors have been doing things that many considered to be impossible.
Friday night in Oakland, it was the Boston Celtics’ turn to defy all odds.
On the second night of a back-to-back, and without its most versatile player in Jae Crowder, Boston turned the impossible into reality by upending the Warriors 109-106 at Oracle Arena.
Boston’s victory squashed Golden State’s pursuit of an undefeated season at home and snapped the Warriors’ NBA-record, 54-game home win streak.
“As basketball players and fans of basketball, you know what’s at stake,” Isaiah Thomas said after the win. “You know they’re trying to chase the record. You know they’re undefeated at home. So it’s like a cherry on top to get a win and stop the streak.”
Boston ended Golden State’s pursuit of perfection in dramatic fashion. This was a game for the ages, one that turned into a heavyweight battle during the second half and went all the way down to the wire.
The Celtics held a two-point advantage at halftime despite the fact that their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas, had gone scoreless over the first 24 minutes of the game. A key factor in Boston accomplishing such a feat was the fact that it limited reigning MVP Stephen Curry to only six points over the first two quarters.
The law of averages weighed out during the third quarter, when the two All-Star point guards caught fire and put on a show. They went back and forth throughout the quarter, as each tallied more points over 12 minutes than most average in an entire game.
Thomas figured out Golden State’s defense and carved his way to the basket during the third. He erupted for 18 points during on 7-of-9 shooting, including six makes from inside of 10 feet.
Thomas’ efforts helped the Celtics go blow-for-blow with the reigning champs while Curry singed the nets at the other end.
Curry, who in 2015-16 has already blown away his own NBA record for 3-point makes in a season, poured in 21 points during the quarter thanks to his unbelievable shooting abilities. He shot 6-for-6 from long distance during the third, including multiple eye-popping swishes over tight defense.
Yet somehow, shockingly, Boston managed to extend its lead by one point by quarter’s end.
“That was the most important part of the game other than the second quarter when neither team could score,’ Brad Stevens said. “In the third quarter, it was high-level basketball. That’s what it was. Curry was unreal and our guys by committee just kind of answered the bell every single possession.”
In addition to Thomas’ 18 points, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk each scored five of their own during the third. The Celtics shot 65.0 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from long distance during the period while outscoring the Warriors 37-36.
“My teammates kept confidence in me and wanted me to be in attack mode,” said Thomas, “and then things started to open up and different guys – every guy down the line – made a key play in this win.”
The fourth quarter was no exception. Boston pulled ahead by as many as 10 points during the final period but Golden State, as expected, made a run. Curry sliced Boston’s lead down to two with 1:29 left on the clock after he dropped in a running finger roll. The Celtics, however, answered right back on the next possession with a turnaround jumper from Evan Turner.
Golden State scored seven points over the final 89 seconds of the game, but Boston scored six of its own to preserve its lead. Every time the Warriors scored during crunch time, the Celtics answered right back. All told, six C’s scored during the final period, including 10 points from Turner.
Things didn’t look so bright for Boston during the early stages of this game. Golden State jumped out of the gates to a 6-0 lead on the back of two 3-pointers from Draymond Green.
Those makes were troubling signs for the Celtics, who had game-planned to take away Curry and Klay Thompson’s 3-point shooting and allow Green to try to beat them from long distance. The team had fresh wounds from such a game plan, as they had thrown a similar plan at Al-Farouq Aminu one night prior. All Aminu did was respond with six 3s and a career-high 28 points to lead Portland to a victory.
On this night, however, Green’s 3-pointers were unable to break Boston’s spirit.
“We literally went in the huddle and were like, ‘We’re going to win this game no matter what,’” Bradley said with conviction.
Boston did exactly that, and in the process, it shocked the basketball world.
This was not supposed to happen. The Golden State Warriors are supposed to be on their way to an undefeated season at home, and the Boston Celtics are supposed to be on their way to Los Angeles riding a three-game losing streak.
But that’s the beautiful thing about basketball, and the beautiful thing about this Celtics team. The game must be played, and Boston will always believe that it can come out on top.
Even if doing so requires defying all odds on the road against arguably the greatest team in NBA history.