NBA Finals

Celtics stage thrilling comeback to beat Warriors, draw first blood in finals

Celtics stage thrilling comeback to beat Warriors, draw first blood in finals

TAKE CHARGE. Celtics guard Jaylen Brown shoots the ball against the Warriors in second-half action.

Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Celtics storm back from a double-digit deficit in the final quarter to steal Game 1 from the Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO, USA – The Boston Celtics staged a furious fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Golden State Warriors, 120-108, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, June 2 (Friday, June 3, Manila time) in San Francisco.

The Warriors turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 92-80 lead entering the fourth quarter and it looked like the “Dubs” might cruise to the finish before their gold-and-blue clad fans at Chase Center.

But the Celtics roared back in the final 12 minutes, outscoring the Warriors 40-16 to steal home court advantage.

In his Finals debut, veteran forward Al Horford was sensational for the Celtics, scoring a team high 26 points including 4-for-4 shooting in the final frame.

Jaylen Brown saved 10 of his 24 points in the fourth-quarter flurry and the Celtics continued their postseason mastery on the road. Derrick White also had 21 off the bench for the Celtics.

“That’s kind of who we’ve been all year: tough, grinders, a resilient group,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka.

Boston will attempt to go up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series Sunday with another game on the Warriors’ court, where the Western Conference champs had been 9-0 entering the Finals.

In winning for the eighth time in 10 road games in the playoffs, the Celtics trailed 92-80 before opening the fourth quarter with a 9-0 burst that quickly closed the gap to three. Brown had 5 straight points hoops to ignite the run.

Golden State’s Andre Iguodala temporarily stalled the avalanche with a dunk, but White and Horford then buried a pair of three-pointers while Brown and Payton Pritchard added one each in a 20-9 spurt that put Boston in charge for good at 109-103 with 4:49 to go.

The Celtics made nine three-pointers in all in the final period, outscoring Golden State 40-16 over the final 12 minutes to win going away.

Horford shot 6-for-8 from three-point range, White 5-for-8, and Marcus Smart 4-for-7 as Boston scorched the nets for 21-for-41 shooting (51.2%) from beyond the arc.

Smart finished with 18 points as the Celtics, champions of the Eastern Conference, won despite an off night from star Jayson Tatum, who shot just 3-for-17 and totaled 12 points.

“We don’t expect JT to have a tough shooting night like that again,” Udoka said.

“I don’t know if you attribute it to jitters, some of the defense they were throwing at him… but it shows what we are, which is a team.”

Stephen Curry had a game-high 34 points and Andrew Wiggins 20 for the Warriors, who led for most of the first 43 minutes. A majority of Curry’s points came on 7-for-14 shooting from beyond the arc.

Golden State was outscored 63-57 on three-pointers despite attempting four more (45-41).

Klay Thompson added 15 points and Otto Porter Jr. 12 for the Warriors, who are making their sixth Finals appearance in the past eight years.

The Celtics survived a 21-point Curry explosion in the first quarter to take a 56-54 lead at halftime.

Curry set a Finals record for a quarter with six 3-pointers on eight tries in the first period. However, he went scoreless in the second quarter, missing his only attempt from beyond the arc.

The Warriors remained upbeat despite the disappointing finish.

“They stayed within striking distance, and they made shots late,” said Warriors guard Draymond Green.

“So we’ll be fine. We’ll figure out the ways we can stop them from getting those threes and take them away… we pretty much dominated the game for the first 41, 42 minutes. So we’ll be fine.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the Warriors will need to be better at closing out games if they are going to prevent Boston from hanging an NBA record 18th championship banner.

“You give up 40 in the fourth and the other team makes 21 threes, it’s going to be hard to win,” Kerr said.

“They came in and played a hell of a fourth quarter and it’s just as simple as that.” –