The Celtics with an epic 4th quarter against the Warriors last night
The Boston Celtics went into Oracle arena last night and fought a hard battle with the Golden State Warriors for three quarters, and then when the 4th quarter rolled around the C's grabbed a steel chair and knocked the Dubs around with it. Not only did the Celtics walk away with a huge road win over the team with the best record in basketball but they managed to do so in convincing fashion. Midway through the 4th quarter the C's turned up to another level and they had Warriors fans filing for the exits with 2 minutes to go in the game. The Celtics held the Warriors to 12 points in the final frame, their lowest scoring total in any quarter this season culminating in a 99-86 Celtics victory:
Warriors' 12-point fourth quarter was their lowest scoring quarter of the season.
Now of course the Warriors were missing arguably their best player in Kevin Durant, but the NBA's #1 ranked offense this season was also ranked 1st last season as well - so they're fully capable of operating without KD. The epic 4th quarter also enough to hold Golden State to their lowest scoring total this season:
Those 6 Celtics steals and 8 Warriors turnovers were part smothering on-ball defense and part lackadaisical effort on the part of Golden State. It was almost as if once the C's frustrated them enough they lost all composure. Boston has proved a tough matchup for the reigning Western Conference champs, they are the only team to beat the Warriors at home twice in the past two years.
The Celtics match up well with the sharp-shooting Warriors because they have a plethora of good on-ball defenders in Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, and 1st-team all defender Avery Bradley. Those guys do a tremendous job making the Warriors two shooters, Klay Thompson & Steph Curry, work for every step they take on the court. With Durant out cleary the Celtics focus was to wear those guys out as the game progressed:
"Our goal was to try to tire their guards down," Avery Bradley says. "It showed, bc Klay Thompson, he missed some shots down the stretch."
That doesn't just go for Klay, as Curry looked worn down in that 4th quarter too. After he hit a 3-point buzzer beater at the end of the 3rd and proceeded to point and yell in Jaylen Brown's face, Curry didn't score another point:
It was about midway through the 4th when the Celtics pulled away on a 15-0 run behind a pair of Crowder threes and a trio of steals leading to points from Bradley and Isaiah Thomas, who nailed a three to cap off the onslaught.
After the game Bradley noted that the Celtics pride themselves on their defensive effort:
"That's what the Celtics are about, playing harder on the defensive end," Bradley said after his team's 99-86 win. "Looking at Marcus Smart at the end of the game, and Jae (Crowder), I could tell they wanted to win this game. I told Marcus, 'Bro, I'm going to make sure that I'm making him take tough shots every single time down.' That was my mindset. And he told me the same thing."
For the bulk of this season the Celtics have relied heavily on their offense to carry them, but with Bradley back in the lineup it looks like they are rounding back into the defensive stalwart that we were accustomed to watching last season.