The “Resilient” Boston Celtics make the first seven 3-pointers in the 4th quarter to stun the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals


The "Resilient" Boston Celtics make the first seven 3-pointers in the 4th quarter to stun the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals

SAN FRANCISCO — After another ugly third quarter in the playoff-packed playoffs for the Boston Celtics, it looked for all the world as if the Golden State Warriors were on track to win Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night at the Chase Center.

But then the fourth quarter began. And after an avalanche of Celtics 3-pointers, that game – and that series – was turned on its head.

Boston hit his first seven 3-pointers to open the fourth, outclassing Golden State 40-16 to stun the Warriors 120-108. In doing so, Boston became the first team in NBA Finals history to win double digits after entering the fourth quarter in double digits, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.

“Being resilience was the word for this year,” said Payton Pritchard. “I think it showed tonight.”

It was definitely like that in the second half. Boston struggled the entire playoffs in the third quarter and also in Game 1 when they faced a Warriors team that has historically dominated the halftime break.

The Celtics were outplayed in the third 38-24. You committed five turnovers. They let Golden State go from 3-point range. And Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown shot 2-for-10 off the field together.

At this point, the Chase Center—host of its first-ever NBA Finals game—was rocking. The celebration had apparently begun. But in Boston’s scrum, the feeling was different.

“The message at the start of the fourth was, ‘We’ve been here before,'” Tatum said. “We know what it takes to overcome such a deficit.

“Obviously they’re a great team. It’s not going to be easy. But just knowing that we’ve been in this situation before and we got out of it. We still had a lot of time, didn’t we? It wasn’t.” Time to hang your head or be done, it was time to find out.”

The Celtics did just that. Of course, it helps when a team comes out and buries their first seven 3-pointers like Boston did. But it went beyond that. The Celtics ended the fourth quarter 9-12 from a 3-point lead.

Golden State, on the other hand, only shot 7-for-17 from the field. The Celtics stopped turning the ball and put up an absurd 12-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the fourth. Boston’s plus 24-point lead in the fourth quarter was the best in an NBA Finals game.

And the Celtics received contributions from both top and bottom of the roster, including Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who left reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart on the bench for most of the fourth quarter, opting instead to play Pritchard for the biggest moments of the Boston season to ride far.

“We’re proud that everyone on both ends can contribute,” said Udoka. “It’s rewarding, especially on a night when your best guy has a night off, others are making an appearance.”

Derrick White continued his brilliant game from the birth of his child early in the Eastern Conference Finals, scoring 21 points off the bench and hitting five 3-pointers.

Al Horford, who was playing in his first NBA Finals game after previously being the record holder for non-finals playoff games, had 26 points, six rebounds and three assists, including all four shots he fired in the fourth quarter — and being seeded Career high with six 3-pointers.

Even as Tatum struggled and went 3-for-17 off the field, he finished the game with 13 assists on just two turnovers and was up 27 in the fourth quarter without scoring a single point. He finished the game with four assists and no turnovers while missing all three shots he made in the quarter.

“Ecstatic,” Tatum said with a smile when asked how he felt about the game. “Forty points in the fourth quarter…the guys were making big shots, timely shots too. And we won.

“I had a bad shooting night. I was just trying to influence the game in other ways. We’re in the championship. We’re in the final. I was just worried about trying to win and we did all that matters at this point.

“So I don’t expect to shoot that bad again. But if it means we keep winning, I’ll take it.”

That was the overall message from the Celtics: that they managed to steal Game 1 even though they still didn’t play their best. Yes, they’re hitting shots and going 21-to-41 from 3-point range. But they had that sloppy third quarter and also got off to a slow start to start the game when a roster that didn’t boast a single player with NBA Finals experience sometimes looked that way in the first quarter.

“Just keep playing. That was our message throughout the game,” Horford said. “They are such a good team. And for us it was easy to keep playing no matter what.

“And our boys, we did that. It wasn’t our best game but we kept fighting and we found different ways to get that win.”

In many ways, this game was a microcosm of Boston’s rollercoaster season. The Celtics were under .500 in late January before tearing through the NBA in their final 35 games of the regular season, a stretch that had the best offense and defense in the league.

Boston then endured two difficult seven-game series against the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat to get here, including winning eliminators on the road against both teams. They are now the first team to defeat the Warriors in a playoff game at Chase Center.

After playing 12 games in 23 days in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Finals and progressing to the NBA Finals, Boston will now rest another three days and prepare to play back here in Game 2 on Sunday night, when the Celtics will have the opportunity to strangle this series with another win.

“It just says what we’ve been doing all year,” Smart said. “We were counted all year round. Rightly so. we had moments But we keep fighting. This is us.

“I think for the past few months that’s been our identity. I think there’s a reason it stayed with us.”

As a result, the Celtics are three wins away from an NBA title.

You May Also Like