SAN FRANCISCO — In their first game since Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals, the Warriors beat the Boston Celtics 123-107 on Saturday night in Golden State’s best and most complete game of the season.
Going into the contest, the Celtics were considered the better of the two teams with their best record in the NBA. But the Warriors dominated for much of the game, with Boston’s biggest lead being just one point four minutes into the first quarter.
As he returned to the locker room, Draymond Green called the game a win for a Warriors team that struggled to find lasting success early in the season. Jordan Poole said it was an example of Golden State’s talent when it shuts down.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr agreed with both sentiments.
“Especially the way they’ve played this year, they’ve been so good, so dominant. I thought we needed a game like this,” Kerr said. “We got a bit stuck in the mud. I feel like we improved, but not much to show for it. It was an important win for us.”
The duo combined to score or assist on 72 of Golden State’s points, shot 12 of 18 more Jaylen Brown and Smart Marcus – two of the Celtics’ best defenders – and were 13 of 27 off the dribble. And their combined 41 points in the first half were their most since Oct. 29, 2018, against the Chicago Bulls.
But it’s not just their offense that has helped power the Warriors. Defensively, Curry and Thompson held the Celtics to 7 of 19 shots from the floor when one of them was the leading defenseman.
“The game was connected,” Curry said. “When you’re locked in defensively and you worry about things that impact the flow of the game and your game and the challenges there, you’re usually rewarded with looks and pace and attacking flow…it was great to see everything connects at both ends for [Thompson] and for our team.”
Before his injuries, Thompson was usually on a mission to defend the opposition’s best player, but since his return, that hasn’t always been his job.
But with Andre Wiggins sidelined for the second straight game with an adductor strain, Thompson, as well as Jonathan Kuminga, was assigned to defend Tatum. They helped keep the Celtics star to 18 points on 6 of 21 shooting – his 15 misses tied a season high.
“I missed a lot of lay-ups,” Tatum said. “They’ve been playing better lately, and it’s a talented team that’s well balanced on both sides. They make it difficult for you, and I think my touch was wrong. But I’ve missed a lot of easy things.”
Thompson said his favorite play of the night came about 90 seconds into the game when he blocked Tatum’s shot from the backboard. It’s something he said he hadn’t done in four years.
“I cherish being able to go out there and play defense and compete more than I ever have before,” Thompson said. “So when you’re up against the best, your game usually reflects that and you’re trying to rise to the level of the competition.”
The Warriors (14-13) not only had an extra layer of motivation on Saturday night because it was a Finals rematch, but also because they had just suffered a heartbreaking loss at Utah two nights before. .
And with the team heading out on a six-game, nine-day road trip on Monday — it’s 2-11 away from Chase Center this season — it needed to build momentum at home.
Curry said the win over Boston (21-6) was anything but a game to win.
“It just gives you the recipe for the intensity and focus you need to beat a team like this,” Curry said.
“Knowing how hard it is to win on the road, we haven’t done it well at all this season. … We want to feel good on the plane … and figure out how to really take advantage of the opportunity that comes along. offer to us.”