It was a golden opportunity wasted by the Golden State Warriors when they lost in Game 1 of the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, 120-108. Stephen Curry racked up 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field (6-for-8 from three) during the first quarter, and for a while it looked like an easy win for the Warriors.
However, several other players, including Draymond Green, failed to convert several open looks, which could have changed the outcome of the game, especially since Curry managed to carry the Warriors to a 32-point quarter.
The first quarter saw the Celtics stumble through several defensive lapses, which left Curry alone to do multiple threes. But the Celtics trailed just 32-48 heading into the second quarter, during which Curry was able to get his first rest of the series.
The Warriors were leading 10 points, but the Celtics answered that with a 10-0 run of their own, reaching a tie at 47. When Curry returned to action, the Celtics managed to adjust to him and they were able to render him scoreless in the quarter.
Jordan Poole, who has the responsibility to step up during Curry’s struggling moments, was just 1-for-4 from the field, with as many turnovers as points during the first half (2). Klay Thompson too failed to step up.
Andrew Wiggins and Otto Porter Jr. each scored significantly in the first half, but their efforts weren’t enough to make up for Curry in the second quarter. The Celtics eventually led 56-54 at the half after both teams went back and forth.
During the third quarter, the Warriors led a more holistic offensive attack. Curry went back to scoring while Green and Kevon Looney took several offensive rebounds to set up second-chance opportunities for the Warriors.
Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum wasn’t in his usual mode offensively. The truth was, the entire Celtics team weren’t as successful in creating open looks against the Golden State’s defense. The Warriors outscored the Celtics 38-24 in the third quarter, heading into the fourth with a 92-80 lead.
Curry took a rest in the final quarter, which made the Warriors falter – Poole’s play was abysmal, which the Celtics took advantage of defensively. The Warriors too made a few bad offensive possessions, which enabled the Celtics to launch a counterattack led by Jaylen Brown.
The Warriors lead was down to five, thanks to a 7-0 run. With 9:20 left in regulation, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr sent Curry back into the game. For a while there, the offense problem was solved, but a three-point barrage from Brown, Derrick White, Payton Pritchard, and Al Horford turned things over, giving Boston a 109-103 lead with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.
With the team in panic mode, Curry started to play like there was no one he could depend on to make a shot. The Celtics took advantage of this and forced the ball out of Curry’s hands. Green and Wiggins failed to convert some open shots while the Celtics managed to do so on the other end.
An incredible 17-0 run made Boston pull ahead by 15 points in the final few minutes of the game.
It was a game-best for Curry, scoring 34 points on 12-for-24 shooting with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and just 2 turnovers. Wiggins had 20, Thompson had 15, and Otto Porter Jr. put in 12.
For the Celtics, Horford led with 26 points on just 12 attempts from the field, while Brown had 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, wrapping up the game with a +22 plus/minus. What really made the difference for Boston was White and Marcus Smart – as the secondary offensive contributors, they combined for 39 points on 9-for-15 shooting from three.
The Celtics only need to win just one of the first two games to get home-court advantage. Meanwhile, the Warriors have to bounce back – for the first time this postseason, they are playing from behind.