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Warriors vs. Celtics Preview: Boston is a serious test, can the Dubs pass it?

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Life won’t be easy against Boston.

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Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

It’s been a pretty long time since the Golden State Warriors beat a good team. But they will get the opportunity to do exactly that tonight.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (11-9) vs. Boston Celtics (10-8)

When: 7:00 p.m. PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

TV: TNT (available through fuboTV)

Projected starters:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, Kevon Looney
Celtics: Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 108.2 offense (22nd), 110.3 defense (12th), -2.0 net (19th)
Celtics: 113.3 offense (8th), 109.5 defense (10th), +3.8 net (8th)

The story

Boston’s record may not be much better than Golden State’s, but they’ve been a substantially better team, and they’re still working Kemba Walker back into the fold after he returned from injury.

They’re a serious team, and the Dubs haven’t beat a serious team in quite some while. This one comes down to whether or not Golden State can make the game their style.

Boston presents two serious issues: They have an elite point guard defender in Marcus Smart to try and make life hellacious for Steph Curry, and they have some honest to goodness full-sized centers to bring the size against a Dubs squad that will be missing James Wiseman. The Warriors need to make it their game, in their style. If they don’t, they will surely lose. But if they do, they could come away with an extremely encouraging win.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Steph Curry.

Apologies for taking the easy way out and going with the 365 days a year Warrior to watch, but Curry’s performance is extra pivotal tonight. The Celtics are simply too good to beat without star power, so Curry needs to put on a show. And with Smart being one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, and Brad Stevens being a top defensive coach, it won’t be easy for Curry (or for his teammates to help him out).

Celtic to watch: Jaylen Brown.

The Cal product is having a breakout year. Brown is averaging 27.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game, while shooting 44.3% from distance and playing his usual phenomenal defense. He has turned into a star.

Matchup to watch: Draymond Green vs. Jayson Tatum.

Tatum is one of the best scorers in the league. Green is one of the best defenders in the league. What more can you ask for?

It’s a doubly compelling matchup because Tatum, for all his offensive brilliance, occasionally has a knack for settling for inefficient shots. Part of Green’s greatness as a defender comes in his willingness to cede shots, as long as they’re low quality. Tatum having 30 points on 26 shots wouldn’t be a shocking outcome, and it would be a win for the Warriors.

Keys to victory

  • Don’t get hammered on the glass against the Celtics much bigger lineup
  • Find advantages with Eric Paschall and/or Draymond Green as small ball 5s
  • Ample off ball movement to open up the floor for Steph Curry, and keep the ball moving
  • Don’t let Kemba Walker be a third star on the floor for Boston

The Warriors won their last game. All of their winning streaks this year have been two games. Let’s see if they can keep that up.