BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics were only focused on one thing Wednesday night: Beating the Chicago Bulls.
Despite all the texts and tweets surrounding Friday night’s big matchup with the undefeated Warriors, the Celtics kept their sights on the Bulls Wednesday night, overcoming a slow start and using a solid second half to propel themselves to a 105-100 victory on National TV.READ MORE: 9 Injured At Back Bay MBTA Station After Escalator Malfunction
“In this league if you overlook anybody, you’re going to come up short. I’m not talking about a 4-5 point loss; I’m talking about 25 point losses,” Boston forward Jared Sullinger said after his 10 point, 16 rebound showing against the Bulls. “We did a tremendous job focusing on the game in front of us, and we’ve been doing that all year.”
With that game out of the way, the Celtics can now shift their attention to the 23-0 Warriors. They bring their top-ranked and oftentimes unstoppable offense to the TD Garden Friday night, looking to continue their quest towards history against a very talented Celtics defense.
The C’s will be without Marcus Smart, which will leave the task of slowing Steph Curry to Avery Bradley. There is no stopping Curry and his 32.2 points per game average, because even with him taking shots from 30 feet out he’s still knocking down half of those smooth and silky heaves (shooting 52.9 percent from the floor). But the same can be said for the rest of the Warriors squad, who as a team are shooting an NBA-leading 49.6 percent as they make losers of every other team in the NBA.
Just one player on the roster, center Marresse Speights, is shooting under 42 percent for the season. So even if you catch Curry on an off night (which has been extremely rare the last 14 months), you still have to worry about Klay Thompson, Draymond Green or Harrison Barnes going off.
But even though the Warriors are the talk of the NBA, looking to best the 33-game win streak the 1971-72 Lakers put together, the Celtics are taking their matchup with the defending champs as just another game.
“It’s really just one game, honestly,” said forward Evan Turner. “This one will just be one of out of however many. Once again, it’s a great opportunity, as you guys already may know, and they play great. Any time you play the defending champs, you want to have an opportunity to play great.”READ MORE: First Afghan Refugees Arrive In Massachusetts
“It’ll be a fun game,” added Turner. “We had [leads against] them a couple games last year where we competed well against them. We’re going to try to play well and keep getting better.”
The Celtics nearly upset the Warriors in Boston back on March 1, 2015, but their 26-point lead evaporated in the second half. A 31-point fourth quarter from the Warriors gave them a 106-101 win, with Curry dropping 37 points and Thompson pouring in another 20 points. Green scored 11 of his 14 in the game’s final frame.
Just a few weeks prior, the Celtics had a fourth quarter surge of their own in Oakland, ultimately falling to Golden State 114-111. Losing a pair of games against the team that went on to win it all by a combined eight points (the Warriors led the NBA with a plus 10.1 point differential last season) proved the Celtics could put up a fight against one of the best teams in the league.
Now they’ll get another shot at the Warriors, who set an NBA record with a 16-0 start to the season. But Sullinger agrees that the Celtics should keep the hype-machine in check, even if friends, family and fans are building it up.
“We’re going to take it as another game. I know they’re coming in with a hot streak. They’re undefeated. But we can’t look at it as a Super Bowl,” he said. “We’ve got to look at it as, it’s another game, another chance to get another win, and carry ourselves like that. Because if we get over there and try to get too excited, they’re just going to blow us out.”
With all the talk leading up to the game, part of dealing with that hype is getting ticket requests. Turner said such requests started last week, but he had a simple message for anyone asking: If you haven’t been supporting the team all season, you aren’t getting tickets to this one.MORE NEWS: Gas Leak In Lawrence Forces More Than 100 People Out Of Nearby Buildings
“You don’t come to the 76ers game, you don’t get tickets to the Warriors game,” he joked.