BOSTON — The Celtics came out on top in the Golden State Warriors’ first visit to TD Garden since the 2022 NBA Finals, but the victory was far from easy to come by.
Boston trailed by 11 points in the closing minutes of the third quarter, scratching and clawing its way to a seven-point deficit entering the fourth quarter — despite stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combining to shoot 6-of-27 through the first 36 minutes.
By the end of the 53-minute affair, Tatum had committed seven turnovers, Brown had missed 12 shots from the field and committed five fouls, Marcus Smart had four turnovers of his own and all four starters outside of Tatum were negatives in the box score.
So, how did they figure out a way to muster out a 121-118 win? Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla believes it came in controlling the uncontrollable.
“To try and say that (mistakes) are going to be eliminated, I think that’s hard,” Mazzulla said postgame. “They’re humans and they’re playing their butts off. They’re going to make mistakes, that’s just how the game goes.
“I’m more of a guy that’s like, ‘Can you operate in the chaos? Can you make a mistake and how quickly can you bounce back?’ It’s going to happen, I think if we just coach the end game in that, and coach the response to the chaos, I think that can help us. That was a fun game, a really, really fun game. I’m happy for our guys.”
There were instances throughout the game in which the chaos was evident to anyone watching. Celtics fans, however, may have noticed early, as Mazzulla actually called the game’s first timeout halfway through the first quarter — a rare jewel.
As the Celtics deployed their double big lineup, the Warriors countered by going extra small and trotting Draymond Green out at center. The contrast in styles that stemmed from that matchup led to a lot of running, forced shots, turnovers and scrambled possessions.
Despite all of that, Boston continuously made big shots on its way to overtime and outlasted a Golden State squad that squandered its opportunities to run away.