The Boston Celtics (41-24) snapped a two-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 99-86 win over the Golden State Warriors (52-12) at Oracle Arena that was buoyed by a fourth quarter filled with statements.
Although the Celtics trailed by two entering the final frame, they outscored the Warriors, 27-12, in the fourth and ripped off a 15-0 run at one point to slam the door shut.
Isaiah Thomas led the Beantown charge with 25 points, and he received plenty of help as the Celtics pieced together a complete team effort while disrupting the Warriors' flow all night long.
Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder spearheaded a monster defensive night, while Kelly Olynyk dropped 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Olynyk also finished plus-29 in 26 minutes off the bench, and the timely showing opened the door for The Ringer's Bill Simmons to joke about his upside:
Bill Simmons @BillSimmons
The Celts picked Olynyk over Giannis and now you know why.2017-3-9 05:43:22
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, on the other hand, led Golden State with 25 and 23 points, respectively. As a team, the Warriors shot 44 percent from the field and 6-of-30 from three as they sputtered to a season-low 86 points.
However, it should be noted that despite the sloppy finish, the Warriors were able to carry a four-point lead into halftime behind stingy defense and steady scoring from their big guns, as the NBA showed on Twitter:
Thompson led all Warriors players with 13 points at the break, and he knocked down his 200th three of the season with a first-quarter conversion from beyond the arc. According to CSNBayArea.com's Monte Poole, Thompson and Curry are the only players who have hit at least 200 treys in each of the past five seasons.
But thanks to Thomas—who continued to slither through crevasses in the defense, as Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney noted—the Celtics had no problem keeping pace:
Rob Mahoney @RobMahoney
In just about every game, Isaiah Thomas shoots through some tiny, closing gap between defenders that pretty much no other NBA player could.2017-3-9 04:57:07
The Celtics continued to hang around in the third quarter when Thomas found the bottom of the bucket from seemingly every angle possible to keep the deficit at single digits, as the Celtics' official Twitter account documented:
Boston Celtics @celtics
Contested, off-balance 3 from the corner? No problem for IT! https://t.co/PhWZemSKb02017-3-9 05:10:34
Thomas, though, wasn't the only one in the off-balance shot-making business.
With the Celtics threatening to enter the fourth quarter in front, Curry took matters into his own hands and made Jaylen Brown look silly with a vintage up-and-under fake to hit a three at the buzzer:
The Boston Celtics Are on Top of the NBA
Gregg Popovich Has the San Antonio Spurs Rolling at Home
It's Early, but Stevens Is the Coach of the Year
Shaq and Chuck Used to Get into It on the Court
LeBron Isn't Worried, but Maybe He Should Be
NBA Superstars Are Cruising by Scoring Milestones
This Lakers Rookie Is Ready to Take Over the NBA
LeBron James Jr. Is More Than Just His Famous Name
Growing Up: Damian Lillard Tells Us How He Improved His Jump Shot as a Kid
Growing Up: the Game That Showed Isaiah Thomas He Could Be an NBA Star
Growing Up: How Kyrie Irving Became One of the League’s Most Lethal Scorers
NBA Africa Game 2017: Embiid, Porzingis & More Battle in Johannesburg
NBA Stars Are All in on #DriveByDunkChallenge, the Summer's Hottest Meme
Lonzo Ball Proves He’s a Big Baller by Winning Summer League MVP
Best and Worst Moves of the NBA Offseason So Far
Winners and Losers of the 2017 NBA Draft
Jayson Tatum NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Celtics Rookie
Grading the Jimmy Butler Trade for the Chicago Bulls
Josh Jackson NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Suns Rookie
Lonzo Ball NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Lakers Rookie
But if the Warriors thought that shot would kick-start their offense, they were badly mistaken.
Boston's defense continued to stifle Golden State's rhythm throughout the fourth quarter, which meant the Warriors had to grind for every open look they could muster with the game on the line.
On the flip side, the Celtics received clutch contributions from Crowder and Olynyk, while Bradley frustrated the Dubs and played lockdown defense on and off the ball.
Now back in the win column following a pair of uncharacteristic slip-ups, the Celtics will attempt to fend off the Washington Wizards for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed when they return to the floor Friday against the Denver Nuggets.
The story differs for the Warriors, who are a mere 1.5 games up on the San Antonio Spurs for the top spot in the Western Conference with a huge matchup between the two looming on Saturday night.
And with Kevin Durant sidelined another few weeks with a tibial bone bruise and sprained MCL, the door is open for the Spurs to sneak into the No. 1 seed and make things interesting as the postseason approaches.
After the loss, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr credited the Celtics for simply outplaying his team down the stretch, as 95.7 The Game documented on Twitter:
95.7 The GAME @957thegame
Steve Kerr on #Warriors poor 4th quarter. https://t.co/KC3hlKNlH32017-3-9 06:09:04
Looking ahead, Kerr told reporters he needs to think about resting his starters to help preserve their legs, according to the Bay Area News Group's Anthony Slater:
Anthony Slater @anthonyVslater
Some Steve Kerr postgame sound https://t.co/ihcl8CXstl2017-3-9 06:14:33
Kerr also emphasized that he will not overextend his biggest contributors even though the Spurs are lurking.
"We still want the No. 1 seed," he said, per the Press Democrat's Phil Barber. "I’m not gonna run guys ragged to get it."
As for the Celtics, head coach Brad Stevens came away impressed by his side's resolve.
According to the team's official Twitter account, Stevens said he thought the Celtics "played with great purpose" and noted his wings were "pretty locked in" guarding Curry and Thompson.
"We knew that our goal was to try to tire their guards down," Bradley said, per MassLive.com's Jay King. "I think we did a great job doing that."
Stevens also took time to praise Olynyk, who received some tongue-in-cheek praise from Amir Johnson, per Celtics.com's Marc D'Amico:
Marc D'Amico @Marc_DAmico
Amir Johnson just called Kelly Olynyk "the white MJ."2017-3-9 06:17:02
"We're better when Kelly is playing really well, there's no question about it," Stevens said, per the team's Twitter account.