The Boston Celtics finally put a dent in the Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena armor.
After an NBA record 54 consecutive regular-season wins at home, a streak that stretched back to January of 2015, the Warriors finally capitulated Friday night. The scrappy Celtics – playing on the second night of a road back-to-back, without star swingman Jae Crowder – somehow held on for a thrilling 109-106 win.
The second-longest such streak (46) belongs to the San Antonio Spurs, and it remains active.
All night long the Warriors kept coming and coming, and all night long the Celtics kept their nose ahead. On offense, they pinged the ball around in a flourish, managing to stay a half-step ahead of the Warriors’ rotations, and hit some clutch shots down the stretch. At the defensive end, they were disciplined and relentlessly active, forcing the Warriors into 22 turnovers, cleaning the defensive glass, and stifling Golden State’s potent transition attack.
The Warriors mounted a spirited attack in the fourth quarter, slashing a 10-point deficit down to two. Steph Curry again hit a hail of impossible threes to keep his team close. But when he got a clean look with just a few ticks left in regulation, his game-tying attempt rimmed out.
For the Celtics, it felt like the completion of some unfinished business. The two teams’ first (and only other) meeting this season came in Boston on Dec. 11. The Warriors were 23-0, the best start in NBA history. The Celtics took them to double-overtime, earning – and squandering – several opportunities to win, before the Warriors finally stole their 24th straight victory to start the season.
A night later Golden State lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, leaving the Celtics feeling like that person who bursts a blood vessel trying to open the jar, then watches the next person slide off the loosened lid with relative ease. This win should wash out that bitter taste, and then some.
For the Warriors, on top of the end of their remarkable streak, the loss also represents a slight setback on the road to 73 wins. They need to finish the season 5-1 to set the new regular-season record.