The Boston Celtics grabbed an emphatic overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors Thursday night, storming back to win the game 121-118 behind a gutsy team effort. Boston has now won eight straight as the team heads north to Toronto.
It wasn’t the finest showing for Tatum and Brown, who struggled for much of the evening. Tatum did end the game with 34 points and a a career-best 19 rebounds. Tatum played for the final 42 minutes of the game, and down the stretch the Celtics stars stepped up in a big way.
Boston’s supporting cast played may have ultimately played the biggest factor in Thursday’s victory. Al Horford led the charge for Boston’s role players, including a series of critical block late in the fourth quarter. Horford finished the game with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. All told, six Celtics players scored 14 or more points.
Here’s what you may have missed from a thrilling Finals rematch between the Celtics and the Warriors.
Avoidable errors and bad luck made things difficult for the Celtics
The Celtics didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. As a team, Boston finished just 39.8% from the floor. Silly and frustrating errors only compounded the issue. Boston committed 17 turnovers and surrendered 8 offensive boards. (The home team did tighten the screws a bit in the second half – the Warriors logged just one offensive rebound in the second half and overtime.)
For long stretches Thursday’s action looked like a frustrating homage to the 2022 NBA championship. Unforced errors and silly mistakes were notoriously a major theme during Boston’s losing effort against the Warriors in the Finals last year. Boston also had to contend with a little bit of bad luck, punctuated by a ridiculous half court shot from Steph Curry to close the first half.
At one point Golden State led by as many as 11 points. Exciting comebacks notwithstanding, the Celtics undeniably made things more interesting than they needed to.
Boston showed a ton of grit
Jaylen Brown came into tonight having missed the three previous games with an injured groin. He looked uncomfortable and a little out of sync all night long. Brown finished with 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting. Jayson Tatum also had a rough night shooting. Thought he managed 34 points on the night, he shot just 9-for-27 from the field.
Credit Tatum and Brown for righting the ship. It was far from the most efficient outing for the duo, but with the game on the line, Boston’s stars got it done.
That the Celtics managed a win says a lot about this team’s depth. And its collective mental toughness. At this point last season, Boston wilted like an orchid at the first sign of adversity. Tonight the Celtics hung in the pocket and persevered.
The role players came to play
Al Horford helped the Celtics start things off with a bang. From a gnarly chase down block on Golden State’s Jordan Poole to a few strong plays at the rim, the former Florida Gator set the tone early for Boston. In the fourth quarter he was equally good, and the bedrock for the Celtics comeback.
Horford’s unimpeachable importance to the Celtics was on full display wire to wire. His floor spacing and passing are huge bonuses on offense, while his defensive IQ gives Robert Williams liberty to do what he does best.
Horford wasn’t the only role player who filled a critical role for the Celtics. Robert Williams ended the night with 14 points and 7 offensive rebounds, providing a massive spark for Boston. Brogdon had 14 off the bench. Marcus Smart was doing Marcus Smart things. A number of players wearing green had excellent outings.
Horford, Brogdon, and Williams in particular deserve flowers for this one. Credit Brown and Tatum for finding their footing late in the game, but it was role players who won the day.
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