Entering yesterday’s game, the Celtics were riding a seven game win streak. The team was hot, but that didn’t seem to be the story.
That’s because the reigning champion Golden State Warriors were in town. Nothing else mattered. Not the winning streak, nothing. All that mattered to the C’s was vengeance. To give the team that ripped their championship dreams away a mid-season loss.
Here’s how it went.
Following the Finals loss, an off-season of solitude ensued. A feeling of coming up short after “failing” to accomplish the main goal.
When asked about the loss, every player answered in their own way, detailing the hurt they felt in the days after. Everyone mentioned how it stung and how it was a feeling they never wanted to feel again.
So of course, when the schedule was released, every fan had the rematch in December circled on their calendars.
Just like the finals, however, the Warriors got the best of Boston. Golden State handily beat the Celtics 123-107. Tatum struggled with just 18 points on 6-21 shooting.
This only made yesterday’s matchup that much more important and intriguing. That aside from this being the first matchup the two have had in TD Garden since June.
Home court is important, especially because the Warriors own one of the craziest home vs road record differences in recent memory. With a 17-5 home record and a whopping 5-17 away from Chase Center.
Also, because of the fans, from the first whistle to the last this game had the feel and atmosphere of a Finals series.
The first quarter started with the Celtics getting an early lead on the back of Al Horford. The big man had 10 of the first 19 points for the Celtics to go along with five rebounds. He also had a highlight reel chasedown block on Jordan Poole.
From there on out, the story of the first quarter was the three ball. Ultimately losing the first quarter 26-25, the Celtics were just 1-7 from three, compared to the Warriors 6-15 start.
Malcolm Brogdon, who had another solid game off the bench finishing with 14 points and seven boards, started the second quarter fast with back to back threes.
This allowed the Celtics to get off to a quick 13-4 run to open up a 38-29 lead.
It was all Warriors after that, closing the half on a 25-16 run capped off by an absurd Steph Curry 50 footer at the buzzer.
This had the Warriors on top 55-54 at half, with the Celtics still struggling from behind the arc, shooting just 4-17 through two quarters.
Starting the 2nd half
The Warriors opened the third with an 18-10 run, giving the feeling that once again the Celtics were going to crumble to their recent NBA finals opponent.
A slow start from the Jays and sloppy defense now had the Celtics in a nine point hole midway through the third.
The Celtics were only able to cut that deficit to seven before heading to the fourth.
Final 12 of regulation
With 12 minutes to go, the Celtics needed the Jays to step up in order to win this game, and they did just that.
Jaylen, who missed the last three games with an groin strain, returned with a modest 16 points on 6-18 shooting, but was huge down the stretch, and also contributed nine boards and three assists on the night.
The Celtics would take full control in overtime and win a thriller 121-118. A huge win, getting the metaphoric monkey off their back after finally beating the team who ended their season just a few months ago.
Although a rough shooting night finishing just 9-27, Tatum was still able to make an impact on the game.
He finished 12-12 from the line en route to a game high 34 points while also snagging a career high 19 rebounds and dishing out six assists.
Tatum also played 48 minutes, and an insane 41 of them consecutively.
Marcus Smart was another key piece to the win, keeping the Celtics afloat while the Jays took a little while to get going.
Smart finished with 18 points, five boards, four assists, and four stocks. He was 3-6 from three on the night.
The main takeaway from the win though was the impact of the double big lineup. The return of last year’s starting lineup that pairs up Al Horford and Robert Williams in the front court.
This win was just the fourth time this was the starting lineup in the 2022-23 season, and it was dominant on the glass and defensively.
The Celtics finished with 79 rebounds, 22 more than the Warriors 57 and a whooping 18 offensive rebounds.
Boston also finished with five blocks, three of which came from Al Horford.
The Celtics now travel to Toronto to take on the Raptors on Saturday in an attempt to extend the league leading record.