One Of Celtics’ Biggest Advantages On Display In Game 1 Win Over Warriors

Boston got 47 points out of Al Horford and Derrick White


Jun 3, 2022

Draymond Green said it like it was a bad thing.

The Golden State Warriors forward doesn’t sound overly concerned about his team’s loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Green was eager to point out how the Celtics rode an incredible shooting performance to the series-opening win. Green pointed out how the bulk of that shooting, especially from distance, came from Boston’s role players, insinuating it’s not sustainable.

“They hit 21 (3-pointers), and Marcus Smart and Al Horford and Derrick White combined for 15 of them,” Green told reporters after the game. “The guys are good shooters, but they combined for, what, (15 out of 23?) … Yeah, that’s 23, right. Yeah, 15-for-23 from those guys, eh, you know, so, we’ll be fine.”

Green’s insinuation isn’t necessarily off-base. The Celtics got incredible performances from the trio mentioned, particularly Horford and White, who combined for 47 points. If that keeps happening, Boston will cruise to its 18th NBA title. It almost certainly won’t, at least not at that rate.

However, Green’s assessment does fail to acknowledge one rather important thing: Boston’s leading scorer, Jayson Tatum, had one of the worst shooting nights of his entire career, making just three of his 17 field-goal attempts. That almost surely will regress positively, too, as we’ve probably seen his worst game of the series already.

That Boston was able to win — and score 40 fourth-quarter points — without much (or anything in the fourth) from Tatum reinforces one of the main narratives entering the series: Boston is the deeper team.

That’s especially true if Jordan Poole can’t find his groove for the Warriors. Poole has been a revelation this season, but he was arguably the worst player on the floor Thursday night, with a game-high four turnovers and a game-worst minus-19. Boston, meanwhile, not only got the 21 points off the bench from White, but it also got big minutes from Payton Pritchard as the Celtics went small in an effort to slow down Stephen Curry and the Warriors’ perimeter shooting.

That’s also on a night where Boston got no real offensive production from Grant Williams.

To further play devil’s advocate, too, how likely is it Otto Porter Jr. hits four 3-pointers off the Golden State bench? He did that just five times all season, so that’s not exactly something the Warriors can count on moving forward.

Then there’s the Curry factor. If the Celtics can limit his open looks, they’re probably going to win the series. Boston was especially effective on the two-time MVP in the second and fourth quarters, where Curry scored a grand total of four points. The Celtics outscored Golden State 68-38 in those two quarters, further exposing the potentially limited capabilities of the Warriors offense when Curry either isn’t on the floor or is being neutralized.

On a night when the Celtics’ best player had far from his best night, Boston found a way to beat a championship team in their gym. It was Golden State’s first loss at Chase Center since March 30. It was a reminder that Boston not only has depth, but that those pieces also are versatile, giving head coach Ime Udoka plenty of options if something isn’t working.

If Game 1 is any indication, that could be the difference in the series.

Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images
Former Boston Bruins center David Krejci
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