Other than that, there is not much for the Celtics to take away from this one. They have now loss their last two games by a total of 57 points and have shot lower than 40 percent from the field in both games. Rajon Rondo’s absence hurt, but it was not the main factor in the loss. Rondo might have troubled Stephen Curry, but Courtney Lee did a decent job defensively despite the Warriors guard’s final line of 22 points, nine assists and three steals.
The bigger issue was in the frontcourt, where the Celtics’ 30-24 advantage in points in the paint tells the opposite story of what really happened. David Lee scored at will down low, Festus Ezeli rejected five shots and Harrison Barnes gave Paul Pierce fits by pulling him outside (with three 3-pointers) and mixing it up inside (with eight rebounds). Jarrett Jack led a frenzied Golden State bench with 16 points.
Fourth quarter, 2:45, Warriors 97-79: Normally, this is where the teams insert their scrubs so their better players can rest for the next night’s game. With the way this game has gone, though, maybe Pierce and Terry should play out the string and let guys like Lee get a blow.
Pierce and Terry, who are surely done for the night, combined to shoot 10-for-39 from the field and watched their opposite numbers cruise into double-digits. Yet Lee is helping break in the likes of Kris Joseph and Jarvis Varnado in the waning minutes.
Fourth quarter, 6:39, Warriors 89-74: The Celtics are getting overly concerned with the officiating, which is not a good sign for them, even if they are right.
Green appeared to get hit in the face on a layup attempt, and Sullinger took a shot to the chops from the flying elbows of David Lee. Green raised his hands, incredulous, and Sullinger took his time getting his bleeding nose looked at, as though to rub it in to the referees.
Still, the Celtics cannot afford to pay too much attention to the refs. The Warriors demand their undivided attention.
Fourth quarter, 10:05, Warriors 83-70: No sooner did the Celtics go back to Pierce then all their momentum was halted.
Pierce hit a three to give the Celtics their first points of the final quarter, but they went back to him on the next possession and he missed a wild shot in the post. Jack responded with five straight points, and Golden State has opened the fourth on a 7-3 run to give themselves a more comfortable cushion once again.
End of third quarter, Warriors 76-67: This is the Celtics’ third straight road game and the front end of a two-game, two-night set, so Pierce and Garnett probably could use a rest anyway. Aside from that, though, Rivers may want to give his veterans a rest for the simple fact that they are not playing well.
The Celtics have played far better when the likes of Sullinger, Bass and Green have been on the floor, with Courtney Lee as the lone starter giving them any consistent production at either end of the floor. Bass came up short on the foul shot of an and-one that would have made it a 10-point game, but Sullinger followed with his 11th and 12th points of the contest to pull Boston within nine points heading into the fourth quarter.
Third quarter, 2:37, Warriors 71-61: As soon as I tell you to give up on this game, the second unit again gives you a reason to keep watching. Bass and Green, as well as Courtney Lee, sparked an 8-0 run by Boston to pull the Celtics within 10 points. If the Celtics are to make a game out of this, it will probably come from these complementary guys, or from Pierce, Terry or Garnett suddenly discovering a shooting touch that has escaped them all game. Don’t bet on it, though.
Third quarter, 5:25, Warriors 71-53: Go to bed. Seriously, if you are not required to watch this game, stop it now. There is nothing to see here.
Pierce provided some semblance of encouragement by scoring five straight points to pull Boston within 13, but he then gave zero effort on the defensive end a few minutes later. Pierce left dangerous shooter Thompson wide open in the left corner for a three. Mistakes by first-year Celtics are one thing. Those committed by a captain, with lackadaisical effort to boot, is another.
Halftime, Warriors 57-40: These are not your older sibling’s Warriors. These guys can play, they have a nice mix of young stars and savvy vets, and they play hard for their coach, Mark Jackson.
Yet with or without Rondo, the Celtics should be capable of defending better than they did in the first half. They allowed the Warriors to shoot 56 percent from the field and 6-for-10 from beyond the arc while gifting them with 14 free throws. (They made 11.) The Celtics were out-rebounded, as one would expect, but they actually have the lead on the offensive glass 10-3. Rivers would point to that statistic and yell, “SEE?!?”
The Celtics coach is not a fan of the offensive rebound statistic, as he believes it hurts his team’s ability to get back on defense. With the way the Warriors have consistently had numbers in early and late transition so far, he has a point.
David Lee leads all scorers with 16 points, and Ezeli has four swats, while the Celtics have yet to block a Golden State shot. Sullinger is the Celtics’ best player thus far with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Second quarter, 2:57, Warriors 52-36: Despite what looks like a mediocre offense, the Celtics have made their biggest blunders defensively. A mixup between Lee and Terry allowed Klay Thompson to get a wide-open 3-pointer to stretch Golden State’s lead to 20 points. Although Green and Sullinger answered with a couple of hustle buckets to carve into that deficit, those types of breakdowns were what made it impossible for the Celtics to beat the Clippers — and could make it impossible to beat the Warriors.
Second quarter, 7:18, Warriors 40-25: Pierce has yet to look truly comfortable on this West Coast trip. His flat jumper, which is always flat, looks even flatter. He missed his first six shots, compounding the shooting struggles of Jason Terry, who is 2-for-4.
Second quarter, 8:38, Warriors 35-25: It took almost 14 minutes of game time for Stephen Curry to attempt a shot. As soon as he did, he reminded the Celtics why this was expected to be a marquee point guard matchup before Rondo’s injury was known.
Curry hit a jump shot to give Golden State its largest lead at 10 points, then answered a last-second shot-clock jumper by Garnett with another J to restore the 10-point edge. This kid can play, folks. Now if only someone would tell his ankles to stop quitting on him.
End of first quarter, Warriors 29-23: An unlikely frontcourt trio saved the Celtics in the first quarter. Bass, Sullinger and Jeff Green got after the Warriors on defense and on the glass, picking up the slack after shoddy starts for Pierce and Garnett.
Still, nobody in a green uniform has had an answer for Lee or Barnes. That duo has missed just one of its first eight shots and has 18 points — or just five points fewer than Boston has scored as a team.
First quarter, 2:55 p.m., Warriors 24-21: After a horrible first five minutes, the Celtics turned it on with Brandon Bass’ playmaking and Jared Sullinger’s tough finishing down low as the catalysts.
Bass took Lee, not known as a great defender, into the post and came up with a two-shot foul before dishing to Sullinger for a cutting layup. Sullinger then dropped home two baby hook shots, and Bass swished a fadeaway jumper, setting the stage for Lee to cut the deficit to three points with an 18-footer.
Sullinger and Bass’ plays helped counter a Golden State block party hosted by Ezeli. The big man, who has become a starter due to the injuries to Andrew Bogut, had three of the Warriors’ four blocked shots in the opening minutes.
First quarter, 8:03, Warriors 15-7: Jason Collins was the first Celtics player to crack the scoring column, but five games into his time as a starter, it is debatable just how much rim protection he provides. Warriors forwards David Lee and Harrison Barnes combined to hit their first five shots for 13 points in the early going, and all except three of those points came at point-blank range.
10:08 p.m.: A member of two Warriors families was lost last week, although news of his death was not public until Saturday.
Jerome Whitehead, who starred at Marquette and spent three-plus seasons in the latter part of his career with Golden State, reportedly was found dead last week in a San Diego suburb. He was 56.
Whitehead anchored the pivot for Marquette’s 1977 NCAA championship team and played for seven teams in 11 NBA seasons. His best season came in 1981-82, when he averaged 13.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game for the San Diego Clippers, but he also posted averages of 13.0 points and 7.9 rebounds in 79 games for Golden State in 1984-85.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers is a fellow Marquette Warrior.
9:16 p.m.: If the Celtics were smart, they packed their running shoes for their trip to Oracle Arena.
The Warriors like to push the issue on offense, more than all except eight teams in the NBA. If you thought the Clippers could get up and down the court, way until you get a look at Golden State.
One player who will not be getting up and down the court for the Celtics is Rajon Rondo. The point guard has a bruised hip and will be out against the Warriors, further thinning Boston’s backcourt rotation. The Celtics are already without Avery Bradley (shoulders) and Leandro Barbosa (personal).
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: The Golden State Warriors have not exactly had a marquee rivalry with the Celtics in recent years, and the matchup could be just as lopsided this time — only the lopsidedness could go in a different direction.
The Warriors (20-10), led by a potential future All-Star backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, host the Celtics (14-14), who come to Oakland searching for answers. The Celtics were embarrassed by the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, putting up a season-low 77 points while suffering their fifth loss in seven games. The Warriors, by contrast, have won five of seven, including Friday night’s victory over Philadelphia.
Curry and Thompson are not the only Warriors who bear watching. Veterans David Lee and Carl Landry have provided steady production on the offensive end, and the team’s overall attitude has been improved by the hard-nosed approach of veteran guard Jarrett Jack. In fact, the Warriors have the type of attitude the Celtics themselves would like to copy.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 10:30 p.m. ET.