Missing 40% of the Warriors' starting lineup and 27.3% of their total scoring in wings Harrison Barnes (ankle) and Klay Thompson (ankle), the opponent's game plan was much easier than on a normal night. Namely, stop Steph Curry. Brad Stevens apparently went with an 'A Clockwork Orange' approach to preparing defensive stalwart Avery Bradley for the task of checking Curry.
Bradley scratched, tugged, bumped and held Curry into a rough night overall. The fatigue was evident as Curry missed some uncharacteristic layups and a few slippery ball turnovers. It was a throwback rough and tumble game from both teams tonight.
Stevens had the Celtics overplaying and shooting passing lanes, forcing the Warriors to run through their plays and looking at their 3rd, 4th, and 5th options out of sets on a night when their secondary and tertiary scoring options were in suits watching on the bench. It was an aggressive coaching decision, one that would have seen lesser success on a night in which the Warriors were at better than 60% strength.
The Warriors eventually clawed ahead after 10 extra minutes of play, gutting out a 124 - 119 victory. The streak lives on.
Anyways, here's some second half observations/thoughts. No formal recap for this game. Think of it as an abridged "finals week" edition of the formal recap.
- Avery Bradley started 5 - 5 from the field for a 15 point first quarter. Although the shooting quickly petered, his defense on Stephen Curry was a great blend of Corey Joseph's ability to scratch and grab and Tony Allen's textbook fundamentals.
- Speaking of Bradley, he needs to talk to Joseph about how to get away with more contact. Granted, he got away with quite a lot, but not on the level of Corey "G.O.A.T." Joseph.
- The Warrior bench started off 0 - 6 from the field through three and a half minutes, surrendering a seven point lead and allowing the Celtics to grab a three point lead. They also picked up four fouls in the first four and a half minutes. Luke Walton, unfortunately, had nowhere else to turn to.
- Brandon Rush is the new David Lee, and I'm not even talking about the lack of defense. He steals more rebounds from other Warrior players than I see from anyone else, leading to some nice individual rebounding numbers but zero overall impact on the boards.
- The Curry fatigue was real in the closing moments, with several mental mistakes ending offensive possessions. He slipped, slid, stepped out of bounds, tripped, and slumped. This isn't to say that he wasn't the best player on the court, but sometimes the best player isn't necessarily playing the best ball.
- Boston is a crowd that complains about everything. Even when Shaun Livingston tiptoes near the out of bounds line.
- How about bungled decision making in late game situations? Rule #1 when taking the last shot is TAKE THE LAST SHOT. With 1.2 seconds left in the game, the worst thing you could do is turn it over out of bounds. Andre Iguodala, ever the steady hand in the clutch, went for a Festus Ezeli bullet pass lob, albeit the third option. But with two timeouts left, why not just restart the five count and run a different set to try and get a new opportunity. Also, Draymond Green (and the Celtic inbounder at the end of regulation) totally lost an open Avery Bradley under the hoop for a game winning alley-oop.
- The Warriors got the memo, but apparently only read the first part of it. On an identical out of bounds play with timeouts left, they went with a last ditch lob to avoid the five count. Try it once, shame on you; try it twice, shame on... you, again.
- Kelly Olynyk looked like the third best Celtic on the hardwood tonight.
- Iguodala was 2 - 7 in regulation but on a night when Klay and Harry were in blazers, I was looking for him to flash aggressiveness beyond opportunistic hunting.
- This was a great regulation game that no one wanted to see go to overtime, apparently. Warriors started 1 - 6 from the field and Boston said "Pffff, lemme show you this!" and went 1 - 7 to start. The physical first 48 minutes led to a ragged extra 5 minutes.
- Luke Walton continued to put undue pressure on the Warriors by not allowing the Warriors to go 2 for 1. They dodged two bullets on bad Isaiah Thomas isolation possessions, but make no mistake: that was almost criminal mismanagement of the clock on the Warriors' part.
- How nice would it have been to have a shooter like Klay Thompson when the Warriors were looking for game winning shots out of bounds?
- Guys helping opponents up off the ground in double overtime of an extremely physical game. I like that.
- The Celtics controlled the offensive glass in the second overtime, getting second and third chances off of one possession.
- If the game had gone into ten overtimes and the Warriors had won, would that have counted as two wins?
- The Warriors' energy oscillated between none and full-on in the second OT. This juxtaposition is illustrated by Curry stepping out of bounds on one play, then the Warriors playing 24 seconds of defense and forcing a shot clock violation in minute 57 of game time.
- Amending an earlier bullet point: in regulation, in OT, and in double OT, the Warriors did not go for a 2 for 1 when they had the ball and ~40 seconds left.
- Livingston is a 95% FT shooter on the year, but more importantly 2/2 in the last 20 seconds of double OTs this season. Steph is at 90%, and 2/2 in the final 15 seconds of double OTs this season. Andre Iguodala is 55% FT shooter, and 2/2 in the final 8 seconds of double OTs this season.
- More endgame bungling: Luke Walton not utilizing the foul to give, which would have made the Celtics use two different out of bounds plays, and created player - coach communications interferences as the Celtics did not have a timeout at that point.
- The Warriors shot 39% and the Celtics hit more threes than they did.
It took 58 minutes to get that 24th win, but it happened. The Warriors are now not one, not two, not three ... not twenty three, but TWENTY FOUR and zero.