Boston Celtics

Celtics-Warriors takeaways: The Jays dominate in statement rout

The Celtics led by as many as 56 points in one of their best games of the season.

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What to Know

  • Brown burns Warriors early
  • Tatum strengthens MVP case
  • Boston's superior depth on display

BOSTON -- The Celtics may or may not have exorcised a few demons Sunday at TD Garden.

In their second home matchup against the Warriors since Golden State won the 2022 NBA Finals on their own floor, the Celtics raced out to a 44-point first-half lead -- their largest in franchise history -- and never looked back en route to a 140-88 win.

Boston dominated from the jump despite playing without Kristaps Porzingis. All-Stars Jaylen Brown (29 points) and Jayson Tatum (27 points, five assists) led the way for the Celtics, who shot 51 percent (25 for 49) from 3-point range to dismantle a Warriors team that had won 11 of its previous 13 games.

Stephen Curry scored just four points on 2 of 13 shooting and went 0-for-9 from 3-point range. Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green didn't play in the entire second half, while C's head coach Joe Mazzulla pulled his starters midway through the third quarter of the 52-point win, which made Boston the first team in NBA history with three wins of 50-plus in one season.

The Celtics will take an 11-game winning streak into Cleveland on Tuesday to face the Cavaliers, who are the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed with a 39-21 record. Before that matchup, here are three takeaways from Sunday's victory:

Jaylen makes Warriors pay early

Draymond Green's attempt to play mind games with Jaylen Brown backfired, to say the least.

Green essentially dared Brown to shoot in the first quarter, inexplicably giving the All-Star several feet of space in drop coverage. Brown responded by burying 5 of 9 3-pointers in the frame en route to 19 first-quarter points.

Brown entered Sunday as Boston's leading first-quarter scorer (7.1 points per game), which makes Green's defensive strategy even more head-scratching. Brown used the apparent disrespect as fuel, firing up the TD Garden crowd as the Celtics raced out to a 44-22 lead.

Tatum bolsters MVP case

Ex-Celtics big man Kevin Garnett said Tatum could make a "loud statement" in the NBA MVP race Sunday. Mission accomplished, Jayson.

On his 26th birthday, Tatum followed Brown's 19-point first quarter with a 20-point explosion in the second quarter, hitting 6 of 7 shots (3-for-3 3PT) while adding three assists and a steal.

Tatum and Brown (47 points first-half points combined) outscored the Warriors (38 points) by themselves through two quarters. Tatum's fingerprints were all over this blowout victory; he played a key role in limiting Curry on the defensive end and finished with a team-best plus-40 plus-minus.

Tatum is still fifth on the MVP ladder at most sportsbooks, but he's now outdueled Luka Doncic and Curry in back-to-back games as the engine that drives the NBA's best team. If Tatum stays hot this week in matchups against the Cavs and reigning champion Denver Nuggets, expect his MVP stock to rise.

Depth charge

The Celtics have come a long way since the 2022 Finals -- particularly in the secondary scoring department.

While Brown and Tatum were the stars of the show, this was still a team effort for Boston: Derrick White contributed 14 points on 5 of 6 shooting with a team-high eight assists, while Al Horford hit 3 of 5 shots for seven points while adding four assists.

Payton Pritchard (19 points on 8 of 12 shooting) and Sam Hauser (12 points; 4 for 9) both hit double figures off the bench, as well.

This game was in hand by halftime, but the Celtics' reserves still outscored Golden State by nine in the third quarter, a testament to their improved depth since June 2022 and a good sign as they eye another deep postseason run in 2024.

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