If we’ve learned anything about Brad Stevens during his two-plus seasons as the Boston Celtics’ head coach, it’s that the man keeps his cool, regardless of the circumstances.
On Friday night, the Celtics adopted the demeanor of their head coach to pull off their biggest win of the season to date.
The Celtics entered halftime at Oracle Arena with a slim lead over the Golden State Warriors after two hard-fought quarters. But in the third quarter, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry sprung to life, pouring in 21 points by knocking down all six of his 3-point attempts.
The reigning NBA MVP’s impressive display would have been enough to run any opponent out of the building, especially considering Golden State hadn’t lost in that building in over a year. But instead of throwing in the towel, Boston did just the opposite, matching Curry blow for blow to actually outscore the Warriors by one point in the frame.
“When Curry got going in the third quarter, I thought the biggest moments of the game were us scoring consecutively when he scored,” Stevens said in postgame interview aired on CSN New England. “Because when he got going, that’s usually when they run away with a 10-0 run or a 12-0 run. We had to play. Guys had to play really well. We didn’t have a guy play poorly. That’s what it takes to beat a team like this.”
The Celtics have Isaiah Thomas to thank for their clutch third quarter. Spurred on by a quick wardrobe change, the 5-foot-9 guard nearly matched Curry with 18 points in the period on 7-of-9 shooting. Thomas also hit a clutch layup with 8.3 seconds remaining that helped stave off a furious Warriors comeback, yet another example of the C’s withstanding Golden State’s best punches.
After the game, Thomas was quick to credit his coach’s leadership for keeping the Celtics focused on the task at hand in a raucous environment.
“He kept saying, ‘This is ours, we’re going to win it.'” Thomas said of Stevens in a postgame interview aired on CSN New England. “He showed more emotion than usual, but that’s just him. He’s even-keeled. You never know what type of game is going on, because he’s so in the middle. That’s the special thing about him.”
It truly was a special night in Oakland, as Boston’s 109-106 win dropped the Warriors to 36-1 at home and snapped an epic 54-game winning streak that dated to Jan. 27, 2015. Even the level-headed Stevens allowed himself to bask in the glow of victory — but not too much.
“I thought the best part about (Friday night) was, there was a real sense of purpose,” he added. “There was never any ducking our head or lowering our head. We just kind of stayed the course and kept grinding at it.”
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images