The red-hot Boston Celtics gave their fans more reasons to celebrate, edging reigning NBA champions the Golden State Warriors for their 14th successive victory.
Boston rallied past Golden State to extend their winning streak thanks to a 92-88 triumph on Thursday.
The Warriors led by as many as 17 points, but a fearless second-half run led the Celtics back into contention.
Building off an emphatic home atmosphere, the Celtics ground out another win despite struggling to shoot from the field.
WARRIORS ARE STILL OPERATING IN FIRST GEAR
The Warriors know they are going to make the playoffs, but they looked like a team sleep-walking, almost going through the motions. Boston's defense has been tough, and two-time MVP Stephen Curry was ice-cold most of the game, yet Golden State's energy level still seemed down.
Too often, the Warriors settled for tough outside shots or contested shots around the rim. Their normal quick-pass offense was replaced by isolation and blindly chucking up three-pointers. The Warriors turned in a lazy display offensively, which is something they would not do in the in the postseason.
CELTICS KEEP FINDING NEW WAYS TO WIN
While the Celtics sometimes fail to pass the eye test, they have now won 14 straight games. Stifling defense and late-game offensive efficiency have been their keys to victory, and on Thursday, they held the Warriors to just 41 second-half points.
Boston closed out the third quarter on a 19-2 run even though the Warriors had been dominating teams in the penultimate period. All five Celtics starters scored in double figures, making key shots and free throws in the second half. Kyrie Irving, while hearing "MVP" chants late in the fourth quarter, scored 16 points with six assists.
Shooting is a concern for the Celtics. They shot just 32.9 per cent from the field, and an ugly 21.9 per cent from three-point range. Gordon Hayward's presence has been missed, but the Celtics cannot be stopped right now.
BROWN COULD BE CELTICS' X-FACTOR
Jaylen Brown scored 22 points on three of eight shooting from beyond the arc. The third overall in last year's draft, Brown has flashed dynamic athleticism getting to the basket. Though not known as a pure shooter, Brown has worked on his shot, leading to a more fluid stroke and more complete offensive game overall.
Brown's energy and versatility helped lead the Celtics back into the game during their third-quarter run. If he can become a more consistent offensive threat, by working on his outside shooting, he could emerge as Boston's third offensive star.
BROWN LEADS THE WAY
The 21-yeard-old forward helped the Celtics to a 19-2 run in the third quarter.
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