The matchup of the NBA’s future lived up to the hype.
The Boston Celtics went toe-to-toe with the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday night at TD Garden and came out on top with a 92-88 win.
Boston trailed by more than 15 points on multiple occasions, but the C’s continued to battle throughout and were tied with 20.2 seconds remaining in the game. Kyrie Irving crossed up Draymond Green and drew a foul on Kevin Durant with 14 seconds to play. The C’s star hit both free throws to give Boston a two-point lead.
Durant missed a jumper to tie the game on the other end, and the Celtics secured the rebound to extend their win streak to 14 games.
Boston held the Warriors to 88 points, 31 points below their season average, as all five Celtics starters scored in double figures.
Jaylen Brown led the way with 22 points, while Al Horford (18 points), Irving (16 points), Jayson Tatum (12 points) and Marcus Morris (12 points) all did their part to secure the win.
The Celtics improved to 14-2 with the win, while the Warriors fell to 11-4.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Marcus Morris
HAYWARD IN THE HOUSE
Gordon Hayward made his first appearance at TD Garden since suffering a gruesome leg injury on opening night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Celtics entered the game as the league’s No. 1 defensive team, but it was the defending champions that came out with unbridled intensity on the defensive end.
Boston took too long to get into its offensive sets, was beaten on the glass and went cold from 3-point range during a lackluster first quarter. The C’s shot 32 percent from the field and 20 percent from distance during the first stanza, as they trailed Golden State 28-18 after one.
Durant led the Warriors with eight points and Nick Young added seven off the bench. Iring and Morris each had five for Boston.
Golden State’s bench took advantage of the Celtics’ second unit to begin the second quarter. Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Co. struggled to put the ball in the hole which allowed the Warriors to jump out to a 16-point lead.
But, as the C’s have been known to do, they battled back to close the quarter. A 6-2 Celtics’ run trimmed the lead to 12, then Brown went on a personal 5-0 run to decrease the deficit to seven.
Two Horford free throws further sliced the lead to 47-42 at the break. Boston closed the quarter on a 15-3 run.
Brown led all scorers with 11 points, while Durant paced the Warriors with nine.
The Warriors once again began to assert their dominance to begin the third quarter. Golden State opened the frame on a 19-7 run, as Boston struggled to get going offensively against the Warriors’ hard-nosed defense.
But the Celtics began to chip away at the 4:32 mark.
Aron Baynes knocked down two free throws then Brown buried down a midrange jump shot. After a Golden State miss, Brown drilled a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 10, and the second-year forward knocked down another trey 28 seconds later.
A host of free throws tied the game and then a Tatum layup capped a 19-0 run that gave Boston a two-point lead.
The Warriors would tie the game at 68 heading into the fourth.
The two teams traded blows throughout the entire fourth quarter, but Durant gave the Warriors a two-point lead with three minutes to play.
Irving, who had an off night, answered with an and-1 to give Boston a one-point lead.
The Celtics had an opportunity to stretch the lead with 1:30 to play, but Smart turned the ball over and Klay Thompson canned a 3-pointer on the other end to give Golden State a two-point lead.
But Irving made two free throws to tie the game, and then, with 14 seconds to play, the star drove to the hole and drew a foul on Durant. He sunk both free throws to give Boston the lead.
After Durant missed a midrange jumper, Boston grabbed the rebound and Tatum knocked down two free throws to nail down the win.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
It was all Jaylen in the third quarter.
Boston will be back in action Saturday when they take on the Atlanta Hawks. Tip-off from Phillips Arena is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.