The Golden State Warriors finally started looking like defending NBA champions on Saturday night.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined for 66 points and the Warriors locked in on defense for a 123-107 win over the Boston Celtics.
"Especially the way they've played this year, they've just been so good, so dominant. I thought we needed a game like that," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters. "We've been a bit stuck in the mud. It feels like we've gotten better, but not a whole lot to show for it. This was an important win for us."
The Celtics are off to a blistering 21-6 start and look like favorites to repeat as Eastern Conference champions.
Meanwhile, it's been a slog both on and off the court for the Warriors. Their title defense began with Draymond Green punching Jordan Poole in the face during a preseason practice, and a malaise has followed Golden State to a 14-13 start. Thompson is playing the worst basketball of his career as he continues his journey back from a pair of devastating leg injuries, and Poole has been disappointing since signing a four-year, $128 million extension.
Golden State has just a 2-11 record in away games this season, which is typically a pretty good barometer of a team's togetherness.
Kerr and Curry said they're hopeful Saturday's win over the Celtics will help spark a turnaround.
"It just gives you the recipe on the intensity and focus you have to have to beat a team like that," 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 about ourselves getting on the plane ... and figure out how to really take advantage of the opportunity in front of us."