BOSTON — There’s a reason why the Golden State Warriors are considered the best team in basketball, and why the Celtics struggle without Al Horford and Jae Crowder on the floor.
Both were painfully obvious for the C’s at TD Garden on Friday night. Boston hung around for a half before Golden State stepped on the throttle, running the home team out of the gym in a 104-88 win.
Klay Thompson led all scorers with 28 points, while Kevin Durant dropped 23 points in his much-hyped return to Boston.
Avery Bradley was the Celtics’ lone bright spot with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas added a team-high 18 points and Marcus Smart contributed 10 before exiting in the third quarter with a left ankle contusion.
Here’s how this one went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk
The Warriors’ offense was in full throttle out of the gate, taking an early lead thanks to some impressive ball movement and excellent play in transition. Durant and Thompson scored 15 of Golden State’s first 21 points.
The Celtics hung around, though. Smart dropped eight points in the first quarter, and Boston went on a 9-0 run with help from a Terry Rozier 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two points after one frame.
The Warriors threatened to break things open in the second quarter, but the pesky C’s refused to go away. Durant and Thompson continued to be a two-man show, stretching Golden State’s lead to eight midway through the frame.
As they did in the first quarter, though, the Celtics fought back, thanks largely to a pair of Gerald Green 3-pointers and plays like this from Thomas, who tallied 12 first-half points:
The floodgates finally opened in the third quarter.
Golden State immediately snuffed out any chance of a Boston comeback, starting the second half on an incredible 20-3 run. The Dubs had fun doing so, too, capitalizing on the Celtics’ poor shooting and careless ball-handling to rub it in on the other end.
Even Zaza Pachulia (!!) got in on the act with this riduculous celebration after a made jumper.
The Warriors outscored the C’s 31-9 in the frame to lead 86-57 after three quarters and all but put the game away.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE
Boston fought admirably in the fourth, at one point trimming Golden State’s lead to 11. But this one was over after three quarters.
WELCOME BACK, KD
Durant got a healthy serving of boos during player introductions and was booed every time he touched the ball early on.
The Warriors forward quickly silenced the haters, though, scoring eight of Golden State’s first 21 points. He finished the night with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting while adding 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
The Warriors filled the highlight reel all night, but the play of the game still was this incredible alley-oop from Rozier to Bradley:
The Celtics are hopping on a plane to Detroit, where they’ll battle the 6-7 Pistons on Saturday night. Tip-off at the Palace of Auburn Hills is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images