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Rapid Reaction - NBA Finals Game 1

Last night the Boston Celtics rode a 17-0 run in the 4th quarter to come back from 24 down and defeat the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. How did this happen? Let’s take a look.

Steph Curry opened the game with one of the best quarters in NBA Finals history with 21 points in the first and going 6 for 8 from 3-point range. The rest of the way? 13 points. If you watched the rest of the game it was clear that 2 things were true – First, credit to the Celtics for making adjustments defensively and daring the rest of Curry’s supporting cast to beat him. Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole combined for 28 points. Simply put, that’s not going to cut it. Also, Curry became confusingly passive as the game went on, especially in the 4th quarter. I’m a Steph Curry fan but if you want to be in the upper tier of legends like Jordan, LeBron, Magic, Bird, Kareem, etc. – clutch performances matter.

I’m running out of superlatives for Al Horford at this point. If you told the Warriors before the game that Jayson Tatum would shoot 3 for 17 with only 12 points, they probably would feel their chances of winning were about 100%. Al Horford though came through with 26 points on 6 for 8 shooting from 3-point range and most importantly spread the floor out for the Celtics sparking their 4th quarter comeback. Big men who are threats from deep are invaluable in the NBA and Horford knows his role better than anyone at 35-years-old.

Derrick White was a huge x-factor for the Celtics, contributing 21 points with a plus/minus of +25. Payton Pritchard also contributed nicely with 8 points in 15 minutes of action. Draymond Green inferred in the postgame press conference that White, Horford and Marcus Smart combining for 15 3-pointers was a bit fluky. Maybe. But you could also make the argument that Tatum and Jaylen Brown only combining for 3 3-pointers is also fluky.

Speaking of Draymond Green, he does a lot of great things on the floor. He can run the point, has great court vision, he contributed 11 rebounds last night and is one of the most tenacious defenders in the league. That said, teams are picking up that he simply is not the offensive threat he once was, especially from deep. He went 2 for 12 from the field last night including 0 for 4 from 3-point range and 0 for 3 from the free throw line. This allowed the Celtics to do a lot defensively including put the clamps on Steph Curry as we mentioned above.

Who will emerge as the Robin to Curry’s Batman? It felt as if Steve Kerr was searching for something last night that he couldn’t find. Jordan Poole played 25 minutes and Otto Porter Jr. played 23 minutes. Poole did not play well last night but the Warriors are not winning this series if he is contributing 9 points in 25 minutes. He needs to do more, as does Klay Thompson. Thompson played 38 minutes and contributed 15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 0 steals. Those are pedestrian numbers for a player of Thompson’s caliber. The Warriors need to do a lot more on Sunday in order to get back in this series.

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