BOSTON — A feverish Draymond Green flexed. An exhausted Stephen Curry slammed the ball into the parquet. Injuries to Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, two overtimes, a tenacious Celtics defense and a raucous Boston crowd weren’t enough to defeat the Golden State Warriors, now 24-0 after escaping TD Garden with a 124–119 victory on Friday night.
The San Antonio Spurs have been heralded for an unparalleled ability to seamlessly plug in role players in recent seasons. That message has now permeated throughout Steve Kerr, and interim head coach Luke Walton’s, locker room as well.
Leandro Barbosa, having been sidelined for three days due to sickness, played 16 minutes for the Warriors after Thompson was ruled out with a sprained right ankle. Brandon Rush and Ian Clark rose off the bench to assume Thompson and Barnes’s starting jobs, and the Warriors still entered their post-first quarter huddle with a 26–25 advantage.
“They believe in each other,” Walton said. “It’s next man up. Our guys like that challenge. They like the opportunity to be out on the court and get some playing time.”
The Celtics hounded Curry all the way out to the half-court line with Avery Bradley and Evan Turner chasing the reigning MVP each inch he traveled around the floor. Curry turned the ball over a season-high eight times, three of which were confounding products of Curry stepping out of bounds. He was limited to a season-low 9-of-27 shooting, 33.3% from the field.
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And Curry still finished with 38 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
“I just try to stay relentless in my attack,” Curry said. “I feel like I have a pretty large gas tank and I’m going to keep running around the court, running off screens, keep attacking, keep looking for shots, keep looking to make plays for my teammates.”
“That’s how superstars are in this league,” Walton said. “ I played with Kobe. I know what that’s like. I’ve seen teams do a great job on him and look down and he’s got 44.”
The fact the Warriors keep winning is moot at this point. It’s the way they’ve continued to win that’s sparked the madness. Golden State has overcome each hurdle thrust in front of them.
Green was whistled for his fifth foul with 5:51 to play in the fourth quarter, yet played the remainder of the entire contest, contributing two points, five rebounds, and one assist in the two overtime periods. He finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and five steals for the first five-by-five game in the NBA since Nicolas Batum on Dec. 16, 2012.
The adversity won’t dissipate, either.
Golden State’s first team bus didn’t leave TD Garden until 11:30 p.m ET. The second team bus, after Curry finished speaking to the media, departed shortly before midnight. The Warriors were originally scheduled to arrive at their Milwaukee hotel at 1:15 a.m CT. But with a three-hour flight separating them from Milwaukee, they now likely won't check in until after 3 a.m. A hungry Milwaukee Bucks squad will be itching for their crack at the world champions, only 18 1/2 hours later.
Thus far, they’ve cleared each hurdle like champions.