NBA

Celtics to face Warriors, then Kings in back-to-back

Dec 19, 2023, 8:56 AM | Updated: 8:57 am

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics shoots past Stephen Curr...

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics begin a four-game road trip through California when they take on the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night in San Francisco in a rematch of the 2022 NBA Finals.

The Warriors won that best-of-seven series 4-2, winning the last three games. The clubs split their two meetings, each winning at home, last season.

The Celtics begin a four-game stretch through San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles — to face both the Clippers and Lakers. They’ve played just 11 of their first 25 games, tied for the second fewest in the league, and will play 13 of their next 20 games away from home.

The Celtics are coming off a 5-0 homestand in which they blitzed the competition by a total of 60 points. They’ve won nine of their last 11 games, with all nine wins at home and both losses — to the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers — on the road.

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Previewing Celtics vs. Warriors

Boston averaged 122.2 points on its most recent homestand, including 133 against the New York Knicks and 128 in its first of back-to-back matchups with the Magic. Jaylen Brown, who shot 55 percent and averaged 22.6 points in the five games, believes his team is at its best when it’s running.

“I like the version of us when we’re getting up and down, we’re making the right reads but playing with a little bit more pace,” Brown said. “(That’s) gonna lead us in the right direction. But also taking care of the basketball is important, keeping the turnovers down and not fouling. I think that contributes to Celtic basketball.”

Though the Celtics have grown accustomed to one-sided contests, the Warriors have grown accustomed to close games. Each of their last 13 games has been within five points at some point in the final five minutes of regulation.

Golden State’s 118-114 triumph at Portland on Sunday, the Warriors’ second straight win, met the criteria. The game appeared to be headed to overtime until rookie Brandin Podziemski stepped in front of Shaedon Sharpe for a charging foul with six-tenths of a second remaining, preserving a two-point lead.

Stephen Curry’s streak of consecutive regular-season contests with a 3-pointer ended at 286 in the win. He’d gone more than five years without failing to make a 3-pointer — since December 2018 — before going 0-for-8 from beyond the arc during a seven-point performance against the Trail Blazers.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr found a silver lining in the historic night, not just in his team’s win but also in that two of his previously struggling veterans — Klay Thompson (28) and Andrew Wiggins (25) — saved Golden State with 53 points.

“We can’t rely on Steph to bail us out on every single night,” Kerr said. “It was a tough night for him, but that’s what a team is supposed to be about: Everybody filling in for each other; different guys stepping up each night. That’s a great sign because he’s carried us for long enough this year. We need to give him more help.”

Tuesday’s game not only opens a three-game homestand for the Warriors but also an 11-game stretch in which their only road game will be Christmas at Denver.

–Field Level Media

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