Lee Confident Facing his Former Warriors Team
WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics will finally get their chance to crack Golden State’s winning formula Friday night at TD Garden. It’s a task that no team in the NBA has been able to accomplish this season, evidenced by the Warriors’ 23-0 start, but the C’s have one advantage.
One of their newest members, David Lee, was right in the mix of Golden State’s championship success last season and he understands how this seemingly unbeatable machine operates.
Lee, who spent five seasons in the Bay Area with the Warriors before being traded to Boston this summer, talked with the Celtics Thursday afternoon about the juggernaut they are about to face.
He explained the key to Golden State’s success is not just its star power, but also its collective confidence that doesn’t falter, no matter the situation at hand.
“A huge part of the NBA overall is confidence and those guys are as confident as you can be right now,” Lee said after practice. “Their attention to detail is great.”
Lee said he saw such poise out of the Celtics organization not too long ago. He recalled going up against Boston’s Big Three of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who played with an unbreakable swagger during their years in green.
“You’d have ‘em down eight at the start of the fourth quarter and Paul Pierce and KG are just looking at each other like, ‘Alright, we’re back in the game now, it’s time to go win,’” said Lee.
“It’s like it’s a certain confidence and a certain familiarity with being in situations with one another and knowing what you’re trying to execute on both ends of the floor. [The Warriors] are really starting to develop that and are taking it to the next level this year.”
No player in this league has displayed more poise than Curry this season, who Lee referred to as the “best player in our league.”
The 27-year-old point guard is on pace for 424 3-pointers, which would smash his previous NBA record of 286. That long-range shooting is what’s driving his league leading average of 32.2 points per game.
Lee admitted that there likely is no player in the NBA that can guard Curry, but believes Isaiah Thomas will match up well against him because of his speed and scoring ability.
“I think Steph would be the first to admit, Isaiah, when he was with Sacramento, with his quickness, he was always a tough matchup for Steph,” said Lee. “Isaiah’s quickness gives a lot of guards trouble in the league, and his ability to not only be quick, but to make shots as well… he’s going to be a tough matchup going the other way.”
It’s not just Thomas who may provide a difficult matchup against the Warriors, however. Lee believes the entire Celtics team should be able to challenge them throughout.
He witnessed Boston’s resiliency twice last season while with the Warriors. On the first occasion, the Celtics took the game down to the wire and lost by just three points in Oakland. The second time, Boston held a 16-point halftime lead at home and ended up losing by five.
“I think we match up well against Golden State,” said Lee. “It wouldn’t hurt to have Marcus Smart (leg injury) playing as well, but those guys are going to have a battle on their hands and we look forward to it.”
Though Lee says he’s looking forward to the matchup, he surprisingly says it does not stand out much above any other game. He says he’s been so focused on growing accustomed to Boston Celtics basketball that he hasn’t had much time to think about the match against his former squad.
“Obviously it will be a fun atmosphere considering their record right now, but to be honest, this has a lot more to do with us just continuing to do what we did last night [against Chicago], and that’s take strides,” said Lee. “I mean, of course we’re excited to play this game – you’re always excited to play the best in the league – but right now, at least me personally, it’s kind of business as usual.”
It may be business as usual from a mental standpoint, but the Celtics will have to step up their game and play near-perfect basketball for 48 minutes Friday night if they hope to come out on top. Lee believes they have the tools to do so.
“They’re a very good basketball team - they’re a great basketball team,” Lee said of the Warriors. “I just think if we go out there and do the things we’re capable of doing, we’re gonna have a shot; especially here, with the way the building’s going to be.”
TD Garden will surely be roaring with confident Celtics fans Friday night and that’s the type of energy David Lee and the C’s will look to feed off as they pursue to halt the Golden State’s remarkable streak. They know, however, that standing on the other side of the floor will be a team that does not waver regardless of the environment. Boston will just have to find a way to keep its confidence flowing from start to finish while playing high-level basketball at both ends of the court.