With the first game of the most anticipated NBA Finals game in years in the books, it’s clear who will be the winner in the series: basketball fans.
The Boston Celtics ended up with the surprise winner as they quickly wiped out the Golden State Warriors’ home advantage with their late 120-108 victory.
Boston used 17-0 in the fourth inning to go up by 14 two minutes before play, while Golden State’s attack was cold at the worst possible time with Splash Brothers et al. Without a bucket for five minutes at four.
The Celtics had no such problem, hitting 9 of 12 from deep in the last period alone and silencing the Chase Center crowd by stomping 40-16 in the last 12 minutes.
But even with the drama exhausted from what was a competitive and well-functioning game, it’s easy to imagine the 75th in the NBAThe tenth The anniversary season concludes with a classic finale. But that will require the Warriors to return for sure in Game 2, scheduled for Sunday.
“We’ve always embraced challenges, it’s no different, we’ll embrace that challenge,” Draymond Green said after the match. “It’s not a blow to confidence at all.”
Some additional tips:
Not only were the Celtics the best defensive team in the NBA in the second half of the season, they were the best by a mile, overtaking the second-placed Memphis Grizzlies by 3.5 points per 100 ownership. But warriors are a different beast.
Not only is Stephen Curry’s constant movement on the ball and the pressure he can put on a defense – quite literally – once the center crosses a constant threat, the rest of the Warriors can either shoot, pass, or both as well.
Curry exploded in the first quarter, but even when he sat early in the second quarter, the Warriors missed a thing. I blinked once and had Otto Porter—a three-point shooter at 40 percent—working his way open for a triple, one of four attempts left off the bench in five. Close your eyes again, and there was a porter setting up a bottom screen for Klay Thompson, his 41.7-percent career three-pointer, who drifted to the floor from the corner and got into a wide-open look.
That raised the Warriors 10 early in the second quarter, but the Celtics didn’t make it to San Francisco to get out early. They slowly began to adapt to the style of the swirling warriors, stopping and pulling themselves from the ropes. They responded 10-0 to tie the match and stopped Curry off the score sheet in the second quarter en route to a 56-54 lead in the first half.
Boston’s message was clear: They didn’t come that way – and they survived Game Seven against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat. – to fold.
Warriors have two jays – approx
But the Warriors have the ability to keep the pressure on teams, both offensively and through their defensive acumen – they were the NBA’s second-best defense in the regular season.
The Warriors signaled their intent by keeping the Celtics’ duo of elite wingers – Jason Tatum and Jaylene Brown – under wraps. Together they reached the finals averaging 49.9 points per match, but the Warriors’ heavy-handed scheming and ability to continue to show the Celtics wing a long list of agile defenders who often started with Wiggins and were always backed by Draymond Green. Boston problems.
At one point, Tatum went 20 minutes of play without a field goal. By the time the fourth quarter began, Tatum and Brown were shooting only 9 of 31 off the ground. Not that all warriors were doing.
Tatum struggled in particular, seeing a number of open looks from three hit the edge hard and bounce the wrong way (he finished 3 out of 17 from the ground and 1 out of 5 from depth). But he did provide 13 assists as he was quick to get the ball out of the double teams and traps and some of the Celtics’ secondary scorers – Derek White and Al Horford in particular – benefited from the open look. Together, White and Horford went in 11 of 16 of three. Marcus Smart was 4 out of 7.
“15 out of 23 out of three, who are those three guys? Greene said afterwards.
Meanwhile, Brown got his start in the early fourth quarter as he helped engineer a 14-3 with three in dispute, with the break-in leading to a ball for Robert Williams and another basket of steals. His trio from a corner kick reduced the Warriors’ lead to just two after Golden State had taken a lead by as much as 15 just two minutes before the end of the third period. It was all part of a strong start to the fourth quarter as Boston netted seven consecutive three-pointers and 11 of their first 14 field goal attempts put Boston six times four minutes to play.
The warriors could not recover.
Wiggins matches his father
Andrew Wiggins played a total of five playoffs in his first seven seasons in the NBA and he’s already more than tripled that total in the Warriors’ run to date. It was not the previous No. 1 overall pick from Thornhill, Ont. , is the most impressive figure, but the prospect of joining his father, Mitch Wiggins (who faced the Celtics in the 1986 Finals with the Houston Rockets) with the NBA Finals. His resume has him flowing, relatively speaking.
“I would definitely be nervous,” he said. “[But] I enjoy everything. I’m just ready to play on the ground. You know, it’s something you dreamed about as a kid. I watched it all my years in the NBA but never had the chance to be a part of it. Now that I’m a part of it, I’m excited and accept it.”
Wiggins looked out of place in his first World Cup game, starting where he left off at the Western Conference Finals with some packed defense – in this case as the primary defender on Brown – while snaking in some key buckets en route to a 20-point night.
There were some awkward moments – he lost his grip in heavy traffic late in the second quarter and lost his balance as he looked to get in on his shot on two occasions in the first quarter. But it also showed its quality.
He scored his first basket finals by flying through the air, absorbing friction, finishing in stunning fashion, then scoring again when he attacked the paint late in the shot clock, rolled and finished on a helpless white ball – a score that was only high. The final scorers can get creative. It is a testament to how much luxury warriors have as a gifted fourth choice.
Wiggins kept rolling in the second half and his third 12-point quarter was a big reason why the Warriors were able to go up 12 to start the fourth inning. But like the rest of the Warriors, he was goalless at six in the fourth minute, reflecting the team as a whole.
Experience did not seem to be a factor
One of the important questions before lifting the ball was: What will be the impact of the relative levels of experience that the two teams bring to the finals? It was the core of the Warriors team consisting of Steve Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green emerging from their sixth final together. As a team, the Warriors had 123 Final Match experience to draw from before the first game, Celtics? zero.
No one wanted to overstate it—the young trio of Jason Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart of the Celtics attended three Eastern Conference finals together—but acclimatising to the big stage can take a minute.
Obviously there are nerves, adrenaline, anxiety and nerves Like everything in terms of gameplay feelings at this point,” Curry said before the first game of his finals experience. “This first game is sometimes all over the place because of that…”
But the Celtics didn’t buy it.
“I would say I generally overestimate it,” Celtics coach Im Odoka said when asked about the importance of the Finals experience. “Our guys have had a lot of success so far, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals a few times. So, for us, try to simplify it, not overcomplicate it. Business as usual, basketball as usual. The things that we have done for success to come here, we will try to We do more of the same.”
The lights are still bright when illuminated. Those early tensions may have been a factor in some early defensive breakdowns, like when Smart—NBA Defensive Player of the Year – I got confused by the transition and left Carrie wide open for three times. Or when Carrie beats the clever tailgate to lie down. Or when Smart got stuck behind a Kevon Looney screen and Curry got three more—all within a few minutes in the first quarter. He ended up scoring a Finals record six times in eight attempts in the first 12 minutes of a game, en route to 21 points in the first quarter, his highest in a Finals in a single quarter.
Curry finished with 34 points and five assists in the game. It was great and fun, but it clearly wasn’t enough. Wiggins (20) and Thompson (15) were the only other starters from the Warriors to hit double digits while the Celtics had five different players hit multiple triples when they fired 21 of 41 from the depths of the team.