BOSTON (CBS) — As the Celtics and Warriors get set for their clash of NBA titans on Thursday night, the love for each other is really flowing.
The NBA’s two best teams will own the spotlight Thursday night at the TD Garden. The Celtics have won 13 straight, the Warriors seven. Boston leads the NBA in defensive rating at 94.5, and will try to slow a Warriors team averaging a league-best 119.6 points per game.
Yeah, Thursday night has all the makings to be a classic regular season matchup between two great teams. In that light, the two head coaches who will go whiteboard to whiteboard are both singing the praises of their opposition.
“This is the best team. The way they share the ball, the way they cut, the way they make you pay in transition and defend — they really don’t have a weakness,” C’s head coach Brad Stevens told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Betrand on Wednesday. “You just have to be extremely disciplined. You can’t get too high or too low throughout the course of the game. They’re going to do some things you have to tip your cap to and you have to be poised enough to run the offense and score.
“You can’t score 80 and beat these guys,”Stevens said. “Even if you defend them great, they’re still going to make some plays.”
Golden State head coach Steve Kerr is not only impressed with what the Celtics are accomplishing this season, but what they appear to be capable of doing in the long-term.
“It sure looks like Boston is the team of the future in the East, with the assets that they still have and their young talent and their coaching, and Kyrie is amazing,” Kerr said on Tuesday. “That looks like a team that is going to be at the top of the East for a long time to come. Whether their time is now or the future, that’s to be determined, but they sure look like they want it to be right now.
“It’s a team that’s been on the rise the last couple of years. They lost in the conference finals. They want to win a championship, and it looks like it. Even without Gordon Hayward and that awful injury, Boston is just crushing people,” he said. “So, it’s going to be really fun to go against them on Thursday. We know how tough it’s going to be.”
Told of Kerr comments on Wednesday, Stevens said his team needs to remain in the moment.
“The future is hard to predict,” he told reporters. “I really appreciate him saying that. There’s nobody that I could respect more. He’s an incredible person and coach. But, yeah, we have to stay in the moment.”
Kerr is plenty familiar with Boston’s new face of the franchise, point guard Kyrie Irving. He’s had to game plan for Irving in each of the last three NBA Finals, with Irving hitting the back-breaking shot in Golden State’s only title blemish in that span.
“I just think it’s his team,” Kerr said of Irving, who is averaging 20.6 points and 5.2 assists per game in his first season in Boston. “In Cleveland, he was such a dominant force, but it was always going to be LeBron’s team. It just looks like Kyrie knows it’s his group, and he’s thriving with that group of players around him. It just seems like the next stage in his development. He knew what he was doing when he decided to leave. I admire Kyrie. Obviously, he’s been a thorn in our side for years, and now he just happens to wear green.”
Listen to coach Stevens’ full chat with Zolak & Bertrand in the podcast above!