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‘Felt like a playoff recreation’


BOSTON — The Golden State Warriors returned right here Thursday night time for the primary time since they beat the Celtics in Game 6 to say the 2022 NBA championship.

For a lot of the 53 minutes of basketball that adopted, it felt like a repeat of how that sequence performed out: numerous ugly Celtics turnovers, notably by Jayson Tatum, to associate with poor taking pictures and stagnant offense.

But, on an evening when little went proper for the house workforce, the Celtics did one thing they in the end could not in final 12 months’s Finals: discover a solution to win. And, because of a Jaylen Brown 3-pointer with 18 seconds to go in regulation and their surviving a frenetic end to extra time, Boston managed to flee with a 121-118 victory.

“That felt like a playoff game,” stated Brown, who completed with 16 factors and 9 rebounds in 41 minutes in his first recreation again from an adductor pressure that saved him out for the previous week.

“Their intensity, their force where they came, that’s a game I’m sure they wanted to win. We were down, what, five to seven [points] in the fourth quarter, four, five minutes left. To be able to have poise to battle back, that shows a lot of growth. We’re taking steps in the right direction.”

It did not really feel just like the Celtics would be capable to say something about this recreation being a step in a optimistic path for many of the night time. After a nip-and-tuck first half ended with the Warriors taking a one-point halftime lead because of Stephen Curry stealing the ball from Tatum and hitting a half-court shot on the buzzer, Boston fell behind by as many as 11 within the second half.

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But a spirited push again into the proceedings within the fourth quarter noticed Boston lower the result in 3 after which tie it when Brown hit a wing 3-pointer following a Golden State miscommunication. Doing so absolved Tatum from a few notably grotesque turnovers inside the ultimate 90 seconds of regulation that, for a second, appeared handy the Warriors a victory.

However, regardless of their struggles — taking pictures underneath 40% from the sector and committing 17 turnovers that turned 24 Warriors factors — the Celtics pointed to the best way they recovered from them as an indication that issues are completely different from after they failed to take action final June within the Finals.

“For us, we’ve talked about poise and physicality,” Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla stated. “Everybody asks, what did we learn [from losing in the Finals]? What have we learned? And I think what we’ve learned is it takes a mindset in order to be successful. And it takes a mindset to be a really, really good team in the NBA. And you can’t be inconsistent with that.

I think even though you play really, really well and we win, we’re still going to have some of those moments. Yeah, we had some turnovers, we had some kind of plays where it’s just kind of like, ‘That shouldn’t happen.’ But that’s going to happen.

“It’s about simply the habits that we’re rising so far as our mindset, our poise, our physicality, our means to execute, our means to deal with the chaos of an NBA recreation.”

That also, arguably, could’ve come into question when, after holding an 8-point lead with 38 seconds remaining in overtime, Boston proceeded to: foul Andrew Wiggins on a 3-pointer; commit a turnover; give up a wide-open 3-pointer; and nearly commit a 24-second violation.

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All of that gave Jordan Poole a chance to get up a half-court shot to tie it at the buzzer — but, unlike Curry’s at the end of the first half, it went wanting, and the Celtics were able to survive. While the victory did little to make up for their defeat last June, it did give them revenge for a blowout loss at the hands of the Warriors earlier in the season.

“I actually really feel like this 12 months we have taken a step as a bunch, being a little bit extra mature dealing with conditions, good or dangerous,” said Al Horford, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes. “Just persevering with to play by and it confirmed tonight, as a result of we had some big errors down the stretch, finish of regulation and extra time, and to have the ability to overcome that and keep the course, not get down on ourselves and eager about simply the subsequent play, that is what we did.

“I was encouraged to see that from our group, but I feel like we’ve been much better at that this year.”

What is not in dispute is the quantity of power and a focus that went into this recreation from everybody concerned. The crowd was electrified from the opening tip and held on each second all through the motion. Both coaches loaded up their prime gamers with heavy minutes; Tatum performed 48 minutes and did not come out after the primary quarter, whereas Brown crested 40 minutes in his first recreation again.

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Golden State, in the meantime, performed Curry, Wiggins and Jordan Poole at the least 40 minutes every though they’ve a recreation Friday in Cleveland. Steve Kerr changed Kevon Looney within the beginning lineup with Poole, a change he stated will stay shifting ahead.

Ultimately, although, Boston discovered a solution to come out on prime. And, whereas the Celtics cannot do something about what occurred final summer season, they consider they’re primed to create a distinct end result within the playoffs this time round.

“You’re going to need games like this,” Tatum stated. “There’s going to be a handful of playoff games where you don’t necessarily shoot the ball well, maybe even on the road — under 40%, 73% from the free throw line, 17 turnovers — and still find a way to win.

“I believe that simply reveals the depth of our workforce, that on a below-average night time for us, we will nonetheless discover a solution to win. That’s all that issues on the finish of the night time. Did you win or did you lose?”


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