Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
As ugly as things looked at times, as far behind as the Celtics fell, the Boston winning streak has now reached 14 games. The latest victory, a 92-88 conquest of the Warriors, was the most impressive yet.
Credit the defense, which held the mighty Golden State Warriors — maybe the best offense ever — to 41 points after halftime. Credit Kyrie Irving, who emerged from a rough night to close out the Warriors late. And credit Jaylen Brown (22 points, seven rebounds), who refused to let the Celtics go quietly when it appeared they might.
During the third quarter, Brown strapped the Celtics on his back, led a monster comeback, and outplayed everyone on the court, including the two MVPs on the other side.
Playing one of his best two-way games ever, the second-year pro stripped Stephen Curry, swatted Kevin Durant and charged an enormous third-quarter comeback. During a 19-0 run, Brown did just about everything: two 3-pointers, great defense, a monster offensive rebound. The Celtics stampeded out of a 17-point deficit to take a two-point lead, and the Garden fans roared.
Even after winning 13 straight games, the Celtics weren’t feeling total love from everyone around the league. ESPN’s power rankings this week had them not on top, but third. The NBA version ranked the Celtics second. And on the TNT pregame show last night, Charles Barkley flatly dismissed what the Cs had done to earn the league’s best record.
But that was before Boston roared back from 17 points down to defeat the defending champs. Charles had no choice but to change his mind:
The Celtics won by outscoring the Warriors, 43-22, over the final 16:49 of the contest and holding Golden State to 32 points below their per-game scoring average. Some of the Warriors posted shooting stats that were practically unbelievable: Draymond Green, 3-11; Klay Thompson, 5-18; and Steph Curry, 3-14. That’s right, megastar Steph, who came in averaging 25.2 per game, made just three hoops and scored only nine points.
Most of the Celtics also couldn’t hit a shot to save their lives. The bench was a combined 2-19, and Kyrie shot 4-16. It didn’t matter:
The hero was Jaylen, who led the team in scoring and electrified the crowd with threes, dunks and defense (including stealing Curry’s dribble, blocking a Durant jumper, and forcing KD into a backcourt violation). Some highlights:
- Al Horford shot 7-11 for 18 points and added 11 rebounds, his second straight double-double.
- Marcus Smart again was inept on offense, shooting 0-7 and even inexplicably knocking the ball out of the hoop before an Irving layup could drop through the net, negating two points for Boston. But Smart was on the court hitting the boards and creating havoc defensively during the Cs’ 19-0 run. He ended the game at plus-15.
- Jayson Tatum looked like a rookie much of the night, but he scored seven points in the fourth quarter, including calmly sinking two free throws that iced the win with 6.7 seconds left.
- Irving, still uncomfortable wearing the mask for his broken face, had only five points through three quarters. Fed up, he tossed the mask aside and delivered 11 points in the fourth, including two FTs that put Boston ahead for good with 14 seconds to play.
- The Celts had a huge advantage at the line, shooting 33 of 38 compared to 12-19 for the visitors. Naturally, the Warriors weren’t pleased.
- One last note: former Celtic Eddie House didn’t think much of Barkley’s pregame opinions:
MassLive – Kyrie Irving takes mask off vs. Warriors: Boston Celtics star ‘knew the health risk I was taking’ | Stephen Curry: Golden State Warriors seeing Boston Celtics in NBA Finals is ‘very, very likely, right?’ | Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving shine & more as Boston Celtics defeat Golden State Warriors: 10 things we learned | Boston Celtics analysis: Not even Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors could score on Boston’s top-ranked defense
On Page 2: Brown played through shock of best friend’s death
After the game, people became aware that Jaylen played with the emotional pain of losing his best friend.
“My best friend passed last night. It was tough to kind of accept it,” Brown said. “Everybody was kind of in shock. But I knew coming into today that he would have wanted me to play. It was hard getting my thoughts together, but after talking to his mom and his family, they inspired me to come out and play.
“I wasn’t in any shape to come out. I didn’t want to leave my room. But they inspired me to come out and play. And I came out and played in his spirit today. My teammates held me up and we pulled it out.”
Jaylen’s postgame comments:
And his message to his friend:
NBC Sports Boston – Jaylen Brown opens up about losing his best friend
MassLive – Jaylen Brown emotional in press conference after losing best friend, helping Boston Celtics beat Golden State Warriors (video) | Jaylen Brown carries Boston Celtics past Golden State Warriors with heavy heart after death of best friend Trevin Steede
Providence Journal – Jaylen Brown comes through despite death of best friend
And, finally: Gordon sighting
The Rest of the Links: