Even if it is just for one game, the Warriors are happy to be within the comfy confines of Oracle Arena after a grueling five-city, eight-day road trip that kept them away from Oracle for 11 days (the longest time without a home game all season). That road trip was among the most brutal in recent memory, not just for the miles of travel, but for the cost. The Warriors return home with two additional losses, and minus one superstar.
No Durant, no problem
Durant left some enormous shoes to fill – he was our leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker. While we wait for Durant to return, all eyes turn toward the other players as both stars and marginal rotation players will have to do more to cover for Durant’s absence.
As Jonathan Asaad noted in his recap, Iguodala has really emerged as a game-changer, partly because Kerr has not been shy about playing him more minutes than usual.
Iguodala played 31 mins vs Knicks, 35 vs Hawks. First time he's gone 31+ in consecutive regular season games since December 2015.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 7, 2017
We saw Patrick McCaw and Ian Clark join him in shouldering the scoring load last game (10 points and 9 points, respectively). It will take involvement from the entire roster to keep up with the potent Celtics squad. So look for the bench to play heavy minutes again, and hope for them to play as well as they did last game.
Remaining Stars aligning
Sure they shot horribly overall (an abysmal 28 of 109 on the road trip), but Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are due to “regress to their mean” and start shooting more in line with their averages. Back to Anthony Slater:
Steph Curry started the road trip 4-of-35 from 3. He's 11-of-23 from deep since. Couple daggers late tonight in Atlanta.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 7, 2017
Isaiah Thomas is the 5’9” dynamo that drives the Celtics’ offense and the player that is closest to being considered a star (sorry Al Horford). Beyond that, he is surrounded by a number of very capable wing players led by Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley.
The Celtics are pretty much middle of the pack in most statistical categories. They score well, defend well and have a generally well-balanced roster that has been sufficient to secure them their place at the top of the Atlantic Division.
Led by coach Brad Stevens, they are one of the only teams in the East that could conceivably challenge the Cavs in a seven game series. It still feels like maybe they need one more critical player, but they have the firepower on offense to go along with the defensive chops that are required to hang with the elite teams of the NBA.
Three point barrage
Believe it or not, the Celtics have actually made more 3-pointers than the Dubs this season and are third in the league with around 12 made threes per game. Like the Warriors, they average a lot of assists to go along with all their scoring (currently 3rd in the league with approximately 25 per game) thanks to the egalitarian basketball philosophy of coach Brad Stevens.
The Warriors will need to dig deep yet again without Kevin Durant but should be considered the favorites to win this game - even without our leading scorer. Expect the Celtics to fight throughout the game, where the Warriors lead the NBA in scoring in the first and third quarter, the 4th quarter belongs to the Celtics. We see the term “small sample size” bandied about a lot, but it will be interesting to see how the Warriors are able to withstand the Celtics late game push.
No word yet on if Kevin Durant will make an appearance at Oracle or not. As much as we love to see him resting comfortably on his couch, it would be a huge emotional boost for the team (and fans) to lay eyes on him.