Celtics score vs. Warriors takeaway: Jaylen Brown, Al Horford lead Boston to Game 1 win over Golden State

Celtics score vs. Warriors takeaway: Jaylen Brown, Al Horford lead Boston to Game 1 win over Golden State

The Golden State Warriors entered the night undefeated at home in the 2022 NBA Playoffs and for three quarters it looked like they would continue that trend in Game 1 of their NBA Finals series against the Boston Celtics. However, things changed in a major way in the final 12 minutes of action when the visitors entered the Chase Center and beat the Warriors 40-16 in the fourth quarter to claim a 120-108 victory.

Stars from both teams came to play as Stephen Curry led all scorers with a game-high 34 points while Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole combined for 44 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. In the end, that wasn’t enough to overcome the performances of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Derrick White, as the road side were able to steal home-court advantage in the opener.

Game 2 will take place Sunday night in San Francisco.

Here are four key points of the game:

1. The Celtics steal it with an incredible fourth quarter

The Celtics entered the fourth quarter in serious trouble, dropping 12 points to a Warriors team that was 9-0 at home in the playoffs through the first three rounds. And when the frame started with Jayson Tatum missing two easy looks to continue his brutal shooting performance, it didn’t look like a comeback was in the cards.

That’s when Jaylen Brown took control. As Tatum struggled, the Celtics put the ball in his hands and he started playing after every game. He scored or assisted on 20 of the Celtics’ first 23 points in the fourth quarter as they stormed back and eventually tied the game with 5:40 remaining on a Derrick White 3-pointer that Brown assisted on. It would be hard to say enough about the importance of this stretch from Brown. It was the exact scenario where they needed him to step up, and he did it in the biggest game of his career.

It looked like we were going to have a frantic finish, but instead the Celtics kept rolling. They outscored the Warriors 17-5 in the final 5:40 to retire for a double-digit win and a 1-0 series lead. The final count of the fourth quarter was 40-16 in favor of the Celtics. That 24-point margin was the largest in a fourth quarter in Finals history.

While the Celtics played well in all aspects of the game in the final frame, the key factor was their 3-point shot. They made their first seven attempts in the quarter from downtown and finished 9 of 11 from deep on fourth. Even more impressive, five different players made 3-pointers during this streak.

“Just keep playing,” Al Horford said after the win. “That was our message throughout the game. They’re such a good team. And for us it was just, you know, keep playing no matter what. And our guys, that’s what we did. It wasn’t our best game, but we kept fighting and finding different ways to get that win.”

2. White starts again

When the Celtics traded Josh Richardson, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2028 first-round pick trade to acquire Derrick White from the San Antonio Spurs, some feared they had given up too much for a guy who wouldn’t even be in their starting XI. In the end, maybe they didn’t give up enough.

White fitted in perfectly when he arrived at the deadline and stepped up time and time again during the playoffs, especially when Marcus Smart was dealing with injuries. On Thursday night, White did it again with perhaps his best performance yet. He finished with 21 points and three assists, knocked down a season-high five 3-pointers, and played stellar defense all night. A single-game plus-under isn’t always the best metric, but White being a team record plus-25 in this game isn’t a surprise.

His ability to navigate screens and stay with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole as they run across the floor is the main reason he’s important in this series. Any attack the Celtics get from him is a bonus, and they hit the jackpot in Game 1. It was only the second time he had scored 20+ points in the playoffs, and he hit two huge 3s in their fourth quarter.

“[White was doing a] a bit of everything,” Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said. “Obviously, five for eight out of three. But the game, shooting and defense. You say we don’t have much of a drop when Marcus comes out and comes in, his size and versatility on the defensive end, his ability to play guys and be aggressive on offense was huge tonight.

3. Horford’s debut in the finals was a huge success

Al Horford has been in the league since 2007 and has made the playoffs in 13 of its 15 seasons. But until this run, he had never made the NBA Finals. In fact, his 141 playoff games without a Finals appearance was an NBA record. That drought finally came to an end on Thursday, as he took to the floor for the opener.

He looked at home, as he drilled his first shot of the night – a 3-pointer on the wire from Jayson Tatum. That shot foreshadowed what was to come, as Horford posted a career-high six 3s en route to 26 points, six rebounds and three assists. In addition to being a career high, Horford’s six 3s were also the best of any player in NBA history in their first Finals game.

“Just grateful for this opportunity,” Horford said after the game. “It’s just going out and playing basketball at the end of the day. That’s exactly what it is. Just grateful to be in this position. God put me in this position, and that’s something. something that I embrace and I’m excited about. I’m just excited to be able to share this milestone with this group of guys. We have a lot of great guys here, guys who have really bought into what we’re trying to do. It’s just fun to see it all come together.

Like many others, Horford was particularly good in the fourth quarter as the Celtics made their comeback. He hit a perfect 4 of 4 from the field for 11 points and hit the 3-pointer that gave them the lead for good with 5:10 remaining. Much like Derrick White, defense is what the Celtics really need from Horford. When he scores like that, it makes them very hard to beat, as the first game showed.

4. Curry goes down in history, then goes cold

Steph Curry made a 3-pointer for the game’s first field goal, which kicked off a historic first quarter in which he made six 3s and scored 21 points. The six 3s were an NBA Finals record for the most in a single quarterback by a player, and the 21 points were the most a player had in a quarterfinal since Michael Jordan in 1993.

While Curry still had to shoot, the Celtics’ many defensive lapses played a big part in his early success. There were several possessions where the Celtics miscommunicated and left Curry wide open for a practice-level shot and others where their bigs sat too far into drop coverage.

As the game progressed, the Celtics settled in defensively and did a much better job guarding Curry. His last line looks great – 34 points, five rebounds and five assists – but he did next to nothing after the first quarter. In fact, he had more shots (16) than points (13) starting in the second quarter. This is an encouraging sign for the Celtics.

5. Tatum becomes playmaker

Jayson Tatum started Game 1 mashing jumpers on each of the Celtics’ first two possessions, and his shooting night didn’t improve much from there. He finished with 12 of 3 of 17 points from the field for his least effective game of the playoffs and his second least effective game of the entire season.

And yet, he still had a huge impact on the game, and the Celtics were plus-16 with him on the floor. Part of that was his defense, of course. Along with all the other elite defenders on this team, Tatum is sometimes overlooked, but his length and versatility make it very difficult for opponents.

The main thing for Tatum on Thursday night, however, was his play. The Warriors weren’t going to let Tatum beat them one-on-one. Tatum responded by making the right play time and time again. He didn’t get frustrated when his shot didn’t fall, he didn’t try to force the action and get stuck in traffic and he took care of the ball. As a result, he finished with a career-high 13 assists, which were also the most in NBA history for a player in his Finals debut.

“Yeah, I think it was a little [Udoka’s] day one post, just to challenge myself to be the best player I can be and improve other areas of my game,” Tatum said. “We watched a lot of movies throughout the game season. , just areas, things I could improve. You know, obviously game making was one of them. Attract a lot of attention. Just help the team as much as possible. So he did a great job of challenging myself, just the group, in that aspect.”

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