The Celtics played possibly their best game of the season Tuesday night against the Warriors. The Cs went into Oracle Arena to face the Golden State Warriors to prove why they should still be viewed as contenders for the title this year despite their recent struggles, and they showed they can beat anyone when they play their game.
The Cs came out firing in the first quarter. Point guard Kyrie Irving got things started with a 17-foot jump shot to give the Celtics the 2-0 lead on the first possession. Contributions from Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum quickly gave the Cs an 11-0 lead after only three minutes.
Within the next two minutes, the Warriors began to find a rhythm that wouldn’t last throughout the game. The Warriors battled back to cut the lead to 13-12. But just as things started to get close, Gordon Hayward caught fire. Hayward cashed in on an Irving assist for a smooth 27-foot 3-pointer to give the Cs some cushion. By the end of the first quarter, Hayward had seven points and helped lay the foundation for a hard-fought Celtics team-win.
“The way that we played is the way that we need to play,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “And defensively we were really connected.”
Boston began the second quarter on an 8-0 run, ending with a Hayward three, pushing their lead to 40-24 just two minutes into the second quarter, and that’s when the game started to slip away from Golden State.
“Just moving the ball, moving bodies, it’s hard for them to catch up to us,” Hayward said. “And then you can really exploit different matchups.”
Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry did all they could to try to bring the Warriors back during the rest of the second quarter, but as soon as they came within 15 points, Gordon would answer.
Hayward made two back-to-back shots for the Celtics for five points and a minute later, dropped in another bucket to bring the Celtics lead to a comfortable 22 points. Boston finished the first half up 73-48 over the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Hayward led the Cs with 19 first-half points.
Hayward didn’t check into the game in the second half until halfway through the third quarter, but when he re-entered the game, G-Time picked up right where he left off. Shortly after getting back out on the court, Hayward capitalized on another Irving assist making a 22-footer.
Around the two-minute mark of the third quarter, Durant dished a pass to Curry, but Hayward intercepted the pass and ran it back for a Boston slam. In the final four minutes of the third quarter, Hayward had put together nine points, one assist and one steal that led to an easy transition dunk.
By the fourth quarter, the Celtics were up 105-76 and the Warriors began putting in their bench to finish. Hayward scored two points at the beginning of the final quarter before letting Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown steal the show.
The Celtics took the win in blowout fashion, 128-95. Hayward was the game’s leading scorer with 30 points (12-16, 4-6 3PT), seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. G-Time becomes the third Celtics player to score 30-plus points off the bench three times in a single season.
“It was fun tonight,” Hayward said. “We did have like, 38 assists or something? I mean that’s utilizing all of our weapons.”
The Cs had four players with 17 points or more, five players with 10 or more, and seven with nine points or more. The team collectively dished out a season-high 38 assists and improved their record to 39-26. They have now won two of their last three games after a four-game skid.
Next, Boston heads to Sacramento to face the Kings on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. ET and coverage can be found on NSCA and NBSB.