Five stats that stood out in Warriors’ Game 1 loss to Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea:
SAN FRANCISCO – Steph Curry’s first quarter Thursday night against the Boston Celtics to open the NBA Finals was one for the record books. The Warriors star became the first player to score at least 21 points in a quarter of a Finals game since Michael Jordan in 1993. Curry’s six 3-pointers in the first period was a new Finals record, and his hot start gave the impression that Golden State was well on its way to a Game 1 win.
Wrong. The game still had 36 minutes to go.
The Celtics led by two points at halftime, trailed by 12 after three quarters and wound up winning 120-108, giving the Warriors their first home loss during this postseason. This was a teeter-totter full of swings and momentum, with Boston coming out on the winning side.
Following the loss, a handful of Warriors maintained the same message: It’s the first to win four games, not one. But if the Warriors are going to get back into the win column, they’ll need to be much better in two nights. A two-loss hole going back to Boston might be too much to climb out of.
With all that being said, these five stats stand out in telling the story of the Warriors’ 12-point loss. This is only their third Game 1 loss under Steve Kerr. They’ve never been down two-games-to-none with him as their head coach and sure hope to keep that streak alive.
That’s how many 3-pointers that Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Derrick White combined to make on 23 attempts. The Celtics made 21 shots from long distance on the night, and that trio accounted for 71.4 percent of them.
Draymond Green after the loss seemed to insinuate that he does not expect those three to remain that red-hot the rest of the way.
“Yeah, 15-for-23 from those guys … ehh, you know, so we’ll be fine,” Green said, with a few facial expressions that said a whole lot.
Horford’s six 3-pointers are the most ever for a player in a Finals debut. The majority of those were wide-open looks. The veteran big man entered the Finals shooting 43.2 percent from long range in 17 game this postseason. He’s no slouch there, and the Warriors have to get a hand in his face.
White was held scoreless the last time the Warriors faced the Celtics and missed all five of his 3-point attempts. This time, he made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points – his second-most during these playoffs. Smart was 4-for-7 from downtown, which is exactly what he did when these teams last squared off in March.
The Warriors came into the night with a clear plan to not let Jayson Tatum beat them. Boston’s brightest star scored only 12 points and went 1-for-5 beyond the arc. Those around him stepped up, and it cost the Warriors in the end.
“You never go in conceding shots,” Steve Kerr said of the Warriors’ strategy. “You kind of have a scouting report on each player. You know who you’re going to close out hot to, who you’re going to close out short to, all that stuff. It felt like to me that we didnt close out very well in the first half, and that allowed them to get going a little bit.
“But again, got to watch the tape and see where the breakdowns occurred.”
That’s how many shots Green missed.
It’s a tough give-and-take here. To send the Dallas Mavericks home for good in the conference finals, Green scored a season-high 17 points. But he was 6-for-7 from the field and made his only 3-pointer. In Game 1 against the Celtics, Green finished 2-for-12 from the field and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
He came out aggressive, attacked downhill and … he was not converting. Boston begged him to shoot open jumpers, and Green obliged. The problem was, he kept missing.
“Yeah, I missed some bunnies,” Green said. “My threes felt good. You know, I’ll continue to stay aggressive. They will fall. You know, tonight, they did not.”
Again, more give-and-take with Green’s offensive game. He needs to continue to be aggressive and it’s a good sign that his triples felt good off his hand. Green also has to be surrounded around more shooters, not Andre Iguodala. If that’s the case, the Celtics will continue to sag and make it impossible to drive.
On the night, Draymond shot the ball five more times than Jordan Poole, three fewer than Andrew Wiggins and two fewer than Klay Thompson.
That’s how many blocks Robert Williams III totaled. Again.
The last two times the Warriors have played the Celtics, Williams has swatted away four shots. He’s playing on a surgically-repaired left knee, which has caused him to miss seven games in the playoffs. It did not look to cause him any harm in Game 1.
“That’s his skill set in the league,” Curry said of Williams. “He’s an amazing rim protector. Especially when he’s off the ball, he can roam a bit. He comes out of nowhere, he can contest shots to the rim. It’s also just feeling him in space, too, because I think he blocked one of my threes at one point.
“You kind of underestimate his length.”
The Warriors were outscored in the paint 34-26. The two teams each finished with six blocks apiece, though it was clear what a difference Williams made.
Williams is listed at 6-foot-8, but has a 7-foot-6 wingspan. He can move forward, backwards and side to side. It’s clear if he stays on the court the rest of the way, he holds a major key to the Celtics’ success.
To Curry, that’s part of the fun in a seven-game series.
“That’s the beauty of this series, and looking forward to playing a team like that and a guy like that,” Curry continued. “The adjustments of what it felt like out there, what the looks were, where we got in trouble a little bit out there and making the adjustments for the next game. … It’s a different experience.
“We’ll be ready for Sunday.”
That’s how many points off Warriors turnovers that the Celtics scored. The Warriors turned the ball over only one more time than the Celtics, 14 to 13, though it’s clear how costly they were.
To no surprise, where it hurt the Warriors most was the fourth quarter. They gave the ball away four times in the fourth quarter. Those four turnovers turned into 10 Boston points – two 2-pointers and two 3-pointers.
The margin for error in the Finals in miniscule. Scratch that, there is no margin for error. At least that’s how Green, a three-time champion who turned the ball over three times, said after the loss.
“I do not think in any NBA Finals you’re going to have a margin of error,” he said. “That’s what this team has to understand. When you get to this – when you get to this point in the season, this level, there is no margin for error. It’s two great teams, and the team that makes the less mistakes is going to win the game, and they did that.
“Yeah, I mean, they had 21 points off our 14 turnovers. We had 10 off their 13. So yeah, there is no margin of error for either team.”
Simple as that. The Warriors have struggled turning the ball over all season. It’s an area that must get fixed in Game 2.
That’s how many points the Celtics outscored the Warriors by in the fourth, tying the record for the largest point differential in any quarter of a Finals game. Reminder: This came right after the Warriors scored 38 points in the third quarter to the Celtics’ 24.
Boston responded by putting up 40 fourth-quarter points. The Warriors scored only 16.
“I thought we had a couple turnovers, a couple bad possessions offensively, and they just pounced,” Kerr said. “They took advantage of every opportunity and moved the ball.”
It really does start with the previously-stated turnovers, and the Celtics’ ability to move the ball, as opposed to the stagnating Warriors. The Celtics had 12 assists in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors only had five. Tatum, known more for being a scorer, had four by himself and totaled 13 on the night.
The Celtics also had 11 rebounds to the Warriors’ five, and the trio of Horford, White and Smart made six of their 15 3-pointers. Jaylen Brown also added two treys and scored 10 points in the quarter.
Everything went right for the Celtics. The opposite was true for the Warriors.
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“My gut reaction, what I just witnessed, they came in and played a hell of a fourth quarter, and you have to give them credit,” Kerr said. “It’s pretty much as simple as that.”
Will it be that simple going forward? Kerr and the rest of the Warriors better hope so.
The Milwaukee Bucks went in a 0-2 hole to open the Finals last season before coming back and taking down the Phoenix Suns. The Warriors do not want to test fate two years in a row.