- Jaylen Brown's big—and emotional—night propelled the Celtics to a close victory over Golden State to extend the team's winning streak to 14 games.
It felt like the buildup to Warriors-Celtics matchup had been going on for weeks. Steve Kerr showered the Celtics with praise before the game, both teams came into the game nursing winning streaks—the Celtics had won 13 in a row coming into Thursday night while the Warriors had won seven straight—and Boston came into the game with the NBA's best record at 13–2.
So what happened when the defending champions, who were averaging 117.5 points, came to the TD Garden to play the league's stingiest defense? The Celtic locked Golden State up, holding them to 40.2% shooting and pulling out a thrilling 92–88 win on national television. So what does this mean for Boston? Does the Eastern Conference now run through the TD Garden? Is masked and untucked jersey Kyrie Irving the best point guard in the league? Here are three thoughts from Thursday's game.
You can't score on the Celtics
Boston held the Warriors to 33 of 82 shots, and the way they did it was particularly impressive. The Celtics were in the Golden State players' shirts from tipoff. Jaylen Brown—more on him in a bit—was a defensive utility knife, hounding the Warriors' guards and wings to impactful results.
Listen to these stat lines from the Warriors best players: Steph Curry had nine points on 2 of 9 shooting, Klay Thompson shot 5 of 18 to finish with 13 points and Draymond went 3 of 11 for 11 points. The only player who really went off was Kevin Durant, and even he only managed 24 points. Marcus Smart and Brown were a problem for the Warriors all night, one they failed to solve.
Jaylen Brown's inspirational play
After the game, it came out that Brown was playing following the death of his best friend Trevin Steede, and that Boston coach Brad Stevens didn't even know if Brown would play in the game. Words couldn't possibly put this tragedy into context but this clip of Brown talking to reporters is heart-wrenching stuff.
Scoring 22 points in a big win comparatively feels small but Brown's strength should be highlighted.
Boston didn't even shoot well
The Celtics finished the game with a 32.9 shooting percentage ... in a win ... over the consensus best team in the league. Imagine what the score would have looked like if Kyrie had gotten loose and shot better than 4 of 16. (He still scored 16 points.) Brown's 22 points led the team, with every starter scoring in double digits and some great bench defense by Smart.
If this team's offense finds a way to catch up to its league-leading defense, the Celtics are going to be a problem.
Fun little note to add: the Celtics shot 38 free throws and made 33 while Warriors went 12 of 19. If Boston can keep doing the little things right, we might not be able to laugh them off in a series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, no matter what Charles Barkley says.