The Saturday night game of the week is always a great matchup on paper, but it doesn't always meet expectations. That's just the way sports go. But this week, the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors delivered. In one of the best games of the season, the Celtics held on for a 119-114 win, their sixth in a row.
Steph Curry was unconscious for pretty much the entire night, pouring in 47 points in a brilliant shooting performance. He recorded his ninth straight game with at least 30 points, and made 10-plus 3-pointers for the third time this week. Unfortunately for the Warriors, as has been the case far too often this season, it wasn't enough.
That was largely due to the fact that Jayson Tatum was matching Curry shot-for-shot on the other end. The Celtics' young star went for 44 points of his own on 16 of 25 from the field, including a go-ahead bucket with less than a minute to play. Thanks to Tatum's huge night, the Celtics were able to secure the win and move up into fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Here are some key takeaways from the game:
Curry puts on another show...
Steph Curry has been unbelievable this season, and Saturday night was no exception. He finished with 47 points, seven rebounds and three assists on 15 of 27 from the field and 11 of 19 from 3-point land. In the process, he recorded his ninth straight game with at least 30 points, which is the second-longest such streak in NBA history for a player 33 years or older.
It wasn't an easy 47 either. Just take a glance at this screenshot and you can get a sense for how much attention the Celtics were giving him. Sometimes they were just trapping him the second he got over halfcourt, and possessions where he didn't see multiple defenders were few and far between.
For the most part, though, it didn't matter what the Celtics were doing. Curry was just in one of those zones. Some of these shots are simply unfair.
It's difficult at this point to try and keep coming up with new and interesting ways to describe what he's doing, so maybe it's best to let Celtics coach Brad Stevens take a shot.
"You always feel like you're the next line of a fairy tale," Stevens said, when asked what it's like going up Curry when he has it rolling. Luckily for the Celtics, they were the ones with the happily ever after when the buzzer sounded.
...but rolls his ankle in the process
The loss wasn't the only negative of the night for Curry and the Warriors. Early in the fourth quarter, Curry cut up towards the top of the key to get the ball, and rolled his left ankle in the process.
It was a nasty looking injury, and appeared to be pretty painful judging by Curry's reaction. He was able to finish the game, but it's not clear yet if he's going to end up missing any time. If so, that would be a huge blow to the Warriors' playoff hopes. Every game is crucial for them now as they try to hold onto their spot in the play-in tournament, and even a short absence for Curry could be costly.
This is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Tatum rises to the occasion...
It can be easy to get discouraged when a player is going off like Curry was on Saturday, but Jayson Tatum didn't hang his head. He stepped up and delivered one of his best performances of the season, finishing with 44 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals on 16 of 25 from the field.
Tatum had everything working in this one. He knocked down 3s, made some tough mid-range jumpers and got to the basket and free-throw line on a regular basis. The latter were perhaps the biggest positives of the night. For as good as he is, Tatum can fall in love with jumpers and make things harder than they need to be.
That wasn't an issue in this game, as he finished 5 of 5 at the rim, and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. Over his last five games, Tatum is now averaging 8.4 free-throw attempts, which is more than double his career average. If he can keep attacking the basket and getting to the line like this, it will make him an even better scorer.
...to get the Celtics their sixth straight win
Everyone has spent the majority of the season scratching their heads and wondering just what was wrong with the Celtics. After a trip to the Eastern Conference finals last season, they were struggling to even stay above .500 and a trip to the play-in tournament wasn't out of the question.
Now, they're sitting all alone in fourth place at 31-26, and have the longest active winning streak in the league at six games. This isn't just a short hot streak either against bad competition either. They just swept a road trip with wins over the Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Lakers, and have won 10 of their last 13 outings dating back to a March 26 victory over the Bucks.
They're definitely still a tier below the top three teams in the East -- the Nets, Sixers and Bucks -- but at this point it seems pretty safe to say the Celtics have re-established themselves as a definite playoff team.