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Warriors relinquish 17-point lead, lose to Celtics in clash between the NBA’s top teams

While Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson struggled from the field, Jaylen Brown played great and Kyrie Irving had a great fourth quarter to give the Celtics the 92-88 victory.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The two best teams in the NBA, both riding substantial win streaks, met on Thursday night as the Warriors traveled to Boston to face Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and the Boston Celtics. This clash of top teams (and potential NBA Finals preview in November) lived up to the hype when the game came down to the final seconds as the Celtics answered every Warriors run both big and small. When the final buzzer sounded, the Celtics secured a hard-fought 92-88 victory, extending their win streak to 14 games while snapping the Warriors’ at seven.

1st Quarter

The Warriors put together a good first quarter, playing good defense and holding the Celtics to just 18 points. The Warriors scored 28 points in the quarter, eight of those coming from Kevin Durant. The majority of those points came from the Warriors’ forward attacking and driving to the basket.

Getting the ball off of a missed Jaylen Brown layup, Durant took the ball the length of the court for the layup. Klay Thompson, who ended up with only 13 points on 5 of 18 shooting, would also attack the basket in the first quarter on this driving layup.

But perhaps the biggest surprise of the first quarter was Zaza Pachulia getting into the act and driving to the basket for the strong dunk.

Between the constant attacking of the basket and seven points off the bench for Nick Young in the quarter, the Warriors would hold a ten point lead after one. Despite Stephen Curry’s struggles shooting from the field (he went 1-5 in the first quarter), the Warriors still held the first quarter lead.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics
Durant, who led all scorers with 24 points, attacked the basket in the first quarter but did not do that as much as the game went on.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

That the Warriors were able to do this spoke to how well they were playing on defense, as seen in Irving’s lackluster first quarter where he scored only five points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field. It was clear that the Celtics had the Warriors’ attention early in the game, as they played tenacious defense and attacked the basket with abandon. That focus would disappear later in the game, but early on it looked like a game the Warriors had in complete control.

2nd Quarter

The second quarter continued in a similar vein to the first. Though the Celtics would chip into the Warriors lead, the Warriors would go on a run of their own to push it further. It would eventually balloon to a 17-point advantage for the Warriors. A big part of why the Warriors were able to push that lead to 17 midway through the second quarter was the play of Andre Iguodala. Iguodala would score six of his eight points in the second, including two on this thunderous dunk that got the attention of the Warriors’ bench.

The Warriors seemed primed to dominate the game, putting together one of their best first halves of the season, but eventually their shooting cooled off and the Celtics came storming back. Going on a 13-2 run to end the quarter, the Celtics cut the deficit to five by the time the half ended. Brown lead the charge, scoring seven of his team-high 22 points in the midst of that 13-2 run that got the Celtics back in the game. Brown ended the first half with five rebounds as well, to go with his energetic play that got the Celtics going.

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown, who led the Celtics with 22 points, helped Boston come back and defeat the Warriors in a matchup of two of the league’s premier teams.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Warriors, meanwhile, began to lose their focus in the second quarter. In the midst of that Celtics run that closed the gap, the Warriors turned the ball over a couple times while Curry’s cold night continued. After scoring a quick four points in the first quarter, Curry did not score again while going 1-for-8 from the field in the half. The Warriors also stopped driving to the basket and only attempted five free throws in the quarter.

3rd Quarter

The third quarter is where the Warriors have done most of their damage against other teams thus far this season. Unfortunately, in this game it was where they really began to unravel and played their worst basketball of the night.

The second half did not start out auspiciously as the Warriors pushed their lead back to 17 points midway through the third. Durant in particular played well, scoring seven of his game-high 24 points in the third as the Warriors again seemed to take over the game. Guarded by Horford (who scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds), Durant crossed up the big man and knocked down the pull-up jumper to push the Warriors lead to 17.

However, the Warriors continued to move away from their basket-attacking plan in the third, not scoring any points at the basket while only attempting two free throws. Some of this had to do with Curry picking up three fouls early in the third, sending him to the bench with 8:13 left in the quarter.

After that bucket from Durant, the Warriors again went cold from the field as Boston stormed back to eventually take a two-point lead. Brown in particular would continue to shine, scoring ten points in the Celtics 19-0 run that gave them the lead.

On that Celtics’ run, the Warriors missed four shots while turning the ball over five times. Only an Omri Casspi floater with 30 seconds left stopped the Warriors’ scoring drought and had the game tied up as things shifted into the fourth quarter.

4th Quarter

The fourth quarter was an exciting (if ragged) stretch of basketball, with the Warriors occasionally pulling ahead by four points before the Celtics tied the game back up. The Celtics’ offensive success was led by Irving, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth. In particular, the Celtics guard attacked the basket, either scoring at the rim or going to the free-throw line. Seven of Irving’s 11 points came from the charity stripe as the Celtics took two times as many free throws as the Warriors (38 to 19).

In this back-and-forth quarter, Draymond Green did his part to give the Warriors the win. Here, Green played great defense on Marcus Smart, forcing the turnover that led to a Klay Thompson 3-pointer that gave the Warriors a two-point lead.

Posting a relatively meager stat line of 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three blocks, Green still made important contributions in the game, particularly on defense.

Unfortunately, the Warriors would not be able to close out the victory. After Thompson (who scored 13 points on 5-18 shooting) knocked down the 3-pointer to give the Warriors that two-point lead, they would not score again as the Celtics closed on a 6-0 run with Irving scoring four points (all from the free-throw line). The Warriors, meanwhile, missed five shots in the game’s final minute, many of them on good looks, as the Celtics sealed the victory.

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics
A frustrating night for Curry, scoring only 9 points while shooting 3 of 14 from the field, left the Warriors leader exasperated at the game’s end.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Looking ahead

In the end, the Warriors lost a game in which they twice held 17-point advantages while holding the Celtics to 32.9% shooting from the field, well below their season average of 43.3%. Turnovers and a stagnant offense (not attacking the basket when the outside shooting wasn’t falling) combined to ensure that the Warriors gave away a game they should have won.

However, there was a great deal that was anomalous about this game. Both Curry and Thompson had notably poor shooting nights, with Curry struggling to a degree where he didn’t even score in double digits. Some of this had to do with the tough Celtics defense, but that doesn’t explain all of the Splash Brothers’ shooting woes.

The Warriors’ fouling woes returned as well and played a big part in this loss.

This led to the Celtics getting into the bonus and thus getting more opportunities to score at the free-throw line, which led to the disparity in free-throw attempts. The officials did not cost the Warriors this game but it was one that was officiated in a way that tilted things toward the home team. That is, perhaps, to be expected as officiating will often favor the home team oh-so slightly, but it is also something worth noting as we assess this game and what it says about the Warriors.

Whether the Warriors lost a game they should have won or fought and did their best in a game where many of their star players struggled to score is something that can be discussed in the coming days. But the Warriors played in an exciting game with a playoff-like atmosphere, eventually losing in the final minutes, and they will have to wait until January to get a chance at revenge against Brad Stevens’ team.

For now, the Warriors look ahead to playing the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night, where hopefully they’ll start up another win streak.


Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Celtics?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Draymond Green
    (110 votes)
  • 38%
    Kevin Durant
    (158 votes)
  • 1%
    David West
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    Klay Thompson
    (12 votes)
  • 8%
    Zaza Pachulia
    (33 votes)
  • 9%
    Andre Iguodala
    (40 votes)
  • 5%
    Patrick McCaw (aka: Nate, vote here)
    (22 votes)
  • 5%
    Other (answer in comments)
    (24 votes)
407 votes total Vote Now

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