The Boston Celtics stole homecourt advantage for the 2022 NBA Finals in pretty stunning fashion. They trailed by 12 entering the fourth quarter, and in these playoffs, teams were 1-31* when trailing by 12 or more points entering the fourth. But Boston put together a 40-16 final period, turning that 12-point deficit into a 12-point victory on Thursday.
* The other victory for a team trailing by 12 or more entering the fourth was Memphis over Minnesota (also on the road – the Grizzlies trailed by 16 after three) in Game 3 of the first round.
Al Horford (26 points), Jaylen Brown (24) and Derrick White (21) were the offensive stars in Game 1 as the Celtics handed the Warriors their first home loss of the postseason and improved to an amazing 8-2 on the road. They’re one road win from tying the record for the most in NBA playoff history (held by the 1995 Rockets, who were 9-3).
One stat stood out from the rest as the Celtics took a 1-0 series lead:
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = % of available offensive rebounds obtained
88.6% — The Celtics’ effective field-goal percentage in the fourth quarter.
The was the highest effective field-goal percentage for any team in any quarter against the Warriors this season (396 total quarters). It was Boston’s fifth-best effective field-goal percentage in any quarter this season (404 total quarters).
The Celtics shot 15-for-22 (68.2%) from the field, 6-for-10 on 2-point shots and 9-for-12 from beyond the arc, in that fourth quarter. Five Celtics made 3s, with Horford, Brown, White and Marcus Smart each making two apiece. It was the fourth time a team has made nine 3s in a quarter in these playoffs, and all four have come from the Celtics or against the Warriors:
• Memphis (9-for-16) vs. Golden State | Conf. semis | Game 5 | 3rd quarter
• Boston (9-for-11) @ Miami | Conf. finals | Game 2 | 1st quarter
• Dallas (9-for-12) @ Golden State | Conf. finals | Game 2 | 2nd quarter
• Boston (9-for-12) @ Golden State | Finals | Game 1 | 4th quarter
Six of the Celtics’ nine fourth-quarter 3-pointers came on a stretch where they scored an amazing 20 points on just seven possessions, turning a five-point deficit with 7:54 remaining into a six-point lead with 4:49 to go. All six of those 3s (and 20 of the Celtics’ 21 total 3s in Game 1) were assisted, and the Celtics’ overall assist rate (76.7% of their field goals) marked their second-highest of the postseason.
Horford, playing in his first Finals game (and 1,092nd total), set a career high for made 3s, draining six on just eight attempts. White’s five 3s (also on eight attempts) were tied for the fourth-most in his career (291 games).
If not for Boston’s last possession of the game, where the Celtics let the clock run out, that fourth would have been the most efficient quarter (190.5 points per 100 possessions) for any team in these playoffs. Instead, at 181.8, it trails two other fourth quarters, including the Celtics’ fourth in Game 4 of the conference semifinals.
Entering the Finals, the Warriors had outscored their opponents by 25.4 points per 100 possessions in the fourth quarter, the best mark for any team in any quarter through the conference finals. Alas, it’s a new series, and the Celtics just flipped the Warriors’ fourth-quarter success on its head.
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