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Preview: Warriors at Celtics will be a litmus test for both teams

Boston always plays well against Golden State. Both teams are anxious to see how that trend holds with Demarcus Cousins now in the mix.

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Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics

Like a couple of teams eyeing each other from across the sidelines before a big game, the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics are going to be taking stock of each other tonight in Boston.

The Warriors have a new weapon in Demarcus Cousins. While the team hasn’t really been tested since he joined the squad, the Celtics are well-equipped to flexibly respond to all of the Warriors’ roster permutations. From the sneaky old man game of Al Horford, to the impressive dynamism of Kyrie Irving, Boston has the right roster construction to give any team fits.

But will they be able to do anything about this new juggernaut Warriors team? Even though it’s just a regular season game, any time two elite teams face off they try to use that game as a measuring stick. This one should be a fun game!

Game Details


WHO: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics

WHEN: Saturday, January 26; 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: TD Garden — Boston, MA

WATCH: ABC

RADIO: 95.7 The Game

Before adding Demarcus Cousins, the Golden State Warriors set a new record for most points scored in a 1st quarter

Just one game before adding yet another All Star to the court, were the Warriors sending a message to the league?

While the players downplayed that specific game as a targeted one, they couldn’t quite hide how much they wanted to establish something — and it just so happened to be right before Cousins joined the team.

As Curry told the assembled reporters after the game (per ESPN), they’ve been paying attention to which teams are good enough to be a concern:

“We’ve been paying attention,” Curry said. “We know who’s been playing well -- and to be honest, we haven’t played as well against the playoff teams in the West. We wanna kinda correct that going into the last half of the season. So, this is a big night for us to continue to build momentum. We want to be able to carry this and put a nice little streak together, and we’re doing it.”

The Warriors come into tonight’s game on a nine-game winning streak, so whatever they were aiming for, it seems like they hit it.

Right now, they are doing most of their damage on the offensive end, where the team’s 115.7 points per 100 possessions is the most efficient offense in the NBA. Already at the top of the heap, the addition of Demarcus Cousins combined with our core finally all playing well, has confounded all of our most recent opponents.

The Celtics will provide a much tougher test

After Lebron James departed Cleveland to pursue the next chapter of his career in Hollywood, most assumed that the Celtics would step in to fill the power vacuum in the East. It hasn’t exactly worked out like that so far though. The lack of internal player development, a few injuries and a slow return to form for Gordon Hayward as he works his way back from a devastating ankle injury have all conspired to leave the Celtics in 5th place.

During the offseason, Kerr called the Celtics “the team to beat” from the East. Asked about it recently, he told The Athletic, “I still feel that way, but they’re not alone.” That’s high praise considering how dominant the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors have been this season, but it’s not without merit.

After an uneven start to the season, the Celtics are rounding in to form. They live off the strength of their fifth-ranked defense, but don’t sleep on the streaky offense. Ranked 10th overall, the Celtics’ story has been defined by shooting struggles earlier in the season but they’ve improved recently and are climbing the rankings.

We already know the Celtics can hang with the Warriors, and this will be our chance to take a look at how much the addition of Demarcus Cousins can change that math.

Prediction

I’ll be at a Reverend Horton Heat show later, so as long as this game doesn’t extend into overtime, I’ll be happy.

Warriors 123 - Celtics 114

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