This loss was just what the doctor ordered for the Celtics, and they knew it.
On the surface, the Celts’ 109-105 loss to the Warriors wouldn’t have seemed like a step in the right direction. Brad Stevens’ club has now lost five of six games, they couldn’t prevent Golden State’s Steph Curry from torching them for 49 points (13 in the final 1:42) and the Celtics coach even dumped another bucket of water on talk of Gordon Hayward returning this season. (“We don’t anticipate him being back this season,” Stevens told reporters before the game.) (For a complete recap, click here.)
But this was a reminder of where the Celtics still stand in among the NBA’s elite.
“This is kind of like, everything we’re preparing for (is) the postseason,” Celtics forward Al Horford told reporters. “I felt like we took a step forward today even though we lost.”
This could have easily represented another step in the wrong direction, especially considering the Celtics were playing without one of their key weapons against this Warriors club, Marcus Smart. Without Smart (hand laceration), there was some doubt if the C’s would be able to lock up the Golden State guards, potentially paving the way for a demoralizing no-doubter.
But the Celtics were able to manage, even without their best defender.
The C’s were able to counter Curry’s brilliance with their own star, Kyrie Irving, who scored 37 points on 13-for-18 shooting from the floor (5 three’s). And Jaylen Brown certainly helped the cause by netting 20 points just down the road from his alma mater.
What should have been the real relief for those wondering if the top team in the Eastern Conference could hang with the best in the West was the idea of how much better the Celtics can be, even on a night they went toe-to-toe with the much-ballyhooed Warriors.
No Smart. Another rookie wall night for Jayson Tatum (4 points, 2-for-9 shooting). And the idea that if these teams face off with each other in the Finals, the Celtics will almost certainly have another scorer (even without Hayward) thanks to that $8.4 million Disabled Player Exception.
The Celtics have one more stop on this four-game West Coast trip — taking on Denver Monday — before returning home to play three straight at TD Garden. That leads us right up to the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline. And, all the while, you have a team that still sits fairly comfortably atop the East, with Toronto residing 1 1/2 games behind, and the Cavs 5 1/2 back.
Optimism has returned to the building.
Kyrie Irving on playing in Oracle: “It’s the same motivation: You want to beat them. That’s what I try to echo to my team. And I know they feel the same way. To be considered the best you got to beat the best. And that’s what we try to do.” pic.twitter.com/jfo851hgNS
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) January 28, 2018
Saturday night featured a battle between the top seed in each conference. It lived up to expectations, but the Warriors held us off for a 109-105 win. pic.twitter.com/dVs0GzA1pt
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 28, 2018
Full article @ Warriors 109, Celtics 105: It’s time to feel good about the C’s (again)
Source: GreenStreet Blog