BOSTON — NBA fans should pray the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors meet for a seven-game series this June.
The two powerhouses clashed a TD Garden on Saturday, with the Warriors claiming the wildly entertaining affair 115-111.
Over the 48 minutes there were 21 lead changes and 14 more ties, and neither side led by double digits at any point.
Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 32 points. Al Horford (22), Jayson Tatum (20 points), Marcus Smart (12) and Jaylen Brown (10) also tallied double figures for Boston. Kevin Durant had 33 points and was one of four Warriors in double figures.
With the loss, the Celtics fell to 30-19, while the Warriors climbed to 35-14 with the win.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Al Horford
DUBS CLAIM FIRST
The Celtics led for most of the first quarter, but a late surge by the Warriors allowed the visitors to take a 29-26 lead into the second.
It was the back-and-forth affair it was expected to be through a good chunk of the first, but the C’s began to tip the momentum in their favor a bit on an Irving triple with 5:19 left in the quarter that upped their advantage to six. That ended up being the biggest lead for either side in the opening stanza, with the Warriors chipping away the remainder of the frame and grabbing the lead with just over a minute left.
Irving didn’t take long to heat up, putting together six points with one rebound and three assists in just 4:15 to begin the game. He finished the frame with a team-high 11 points, while Durant paced all players with 14.
WARRIORS EXTEND LEAD, BUT C’S FIGHT BACK
Boston’s defense began to break down in the second quarter and the Warriors made them pay. However, a late surge allowed the Celtics to outscore Golden State 33-23 in the second, although they went into the half trailing 61-59.
Just under two minutes into the frame, the Warriors began an 8-2 run that put them up three with 8:53 left. The Celtics did a pretty good job countering on the offensive end, but Stephen Curry went scorched earth from three-point territory to create some separation. Once Curry heated up, the Celtics had to guard him further out, and that allowed for some probing passes that created open looks underneath the basket.
Down by nine with less than five minutes to go, the Celtics strung together a 12-2 run to go ahead by one with less than two minutes to play. The Warriors proceeded to outscore the C’s 5-2 in the final 90 seconds.
Curry had 17 points in the second, while Irving led all players with 19 first-half points.
WARRIORS GET SOME SEPARATION
As had been the case all night, it was level-pegging in the third, with a burst from the Dubs in the back half of the stanza allowing them to outscore the C’s 29-25 and take a 90-84 lead into the fourth.
Shortly into the third the Celtics started having success from beyond the arc, and it allowed them to take the lead. Tatum hit three triples in the first five minutes of the frame, and a Marcus Morris trey with 6:51 left gave the Celtics a 77-75 advantage and forced Warriors head coach Steve Kerr into a timeout.
From there the Warriors responded nicely, taking the lead and then creating a little room thanks to an 8-0 run over 2:46, which put them up 88-81 with 2:24 left.
Tatum had 14 points in the third.
GOLDEN STATE WINS IT
It was a thrilling finish, but the Celtics were unable to earn the victory despite outscoring the Warriors 27-25 in the final 12 minutes.
Boston outscored the Warriors 12-4 in the first 3:33 of the fourth, allowing them to take a 96-94 lead.
Neither team led by more than five the rest of the way.
Down by three with 1:08 left, Smart knocked down a trey to tie the game at 111. Klay Thompson was fouled the next trip down the floor and knocked down both free throws. With 10 seconds left, Morris rung a would-be go-ahead three off the backiron, and Draymond Green was intentionally fouled after getting the rebound. Green missed both free-throw attempts, but got his own rebound on the second, fed a pass out to Curry and Curry was fouled and sent to the line with six seconds left. He knocked down both to put Golden State up 115-111.
The Celtics couldn’t convert on the final play of the game, sealing the loss.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Draymond wanted no part of that.
The Celtics will remain at home for a tilt with the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images