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Celtics take Game 1 on Warriors home court

2022 NBA Finals - Game One
Boston Celtics forward Al Horford dominated in game one of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics rode a game for the ages from Al Horford and a dominant fourth quarter to roll to a 120-112 Game 1 victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Game 2 is Sunday night.

Through three quarters, the Warriors seemed to have control of the game. When Stephen Curry took a breather to start the fourth, Golden State fell apart. Curry re-entered the game, but couldn’t stop the bleeding. The Celtics won the fourth quarter 40-16.

The final six minutes were a basketball beatdown. Curry connected on what the official play-by-play describes as a seven-foot driving finger roll layup to give his team a 103-100 lead. Boston then blanked Golden State for the next five minutes, rolling to a 117-103 advantage.

Horford scored 11 of his 26 points in the fourth — shooting 4-4 from the floor, including a pair of threes. He also played his usual superb defense.

Marcus Smart played a quality all-around game — an efficient 18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists with two steals and solid defense.

Derrick White his shots (5-8 from three) and played terrific defense. Few players in the NBA chase through screens better than White.

In what might be scary news for Golden State, Boston didn’t get outstanding games from their two best players: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Each found ways to contribute. Tatum shot just 3-17 from the floor, but also dished 13 assists. Brown was solid overall, and was critical hitting shots to spearhead the fourth quarter run.

For Golden State, Curry was outstanding — an efficient 34 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals. Andrew Wiggins was pretty good, and former Wizard Otto Porter Jr. played well (4-5 from three-point range, 4 rebounds, 2 steals). Kevon Looney grabbed 6 offensive rebounds and had 5 assists.

On the other end of the spectrum, Klay Thompson was meh, and Jordan Poole and Draymond Green were terrible. Green was a veritable self-check on offense — 2-12 from the floor, 5 assists and 3 turnovers. He had a pair of steals but was out of sorts defensively. He fouled out in the game’s final minutes.

I’ll be interested to see the Game 2 chess match. Golden State’s overall plan — and even much of the execution — looked sound and worked...at least until Boston hit everything in the fourth.

Boston has their work cut out for them trying to defend Curry. He shredded every defensive tactic they tried. The Celtics seemed to have some success pushing Curry off the three-point line and inducing him to drive.

Also interesting: Golden State and Boston were the league’s top defensive teams this season, and the Warriors were middle of the pack offensively. And yet, each team had success offensively and had trouble slowing the other’s attack — at least until that five-minute stretch in the fourth quarter.

The Four Factors

Below are the four factors that decide who wins and loses in basketball — shooting (efg), rebounding (offensive rebounds), ball handling (turnovers), fouling (free throws made).

I’ve simplified them a bit. While the factors are usually presented as percentages, that’s more useful over a full season. In a single game, the raw numbers in each category are easier to understand.

Four Factors: Celtics 120 at Warriors 112

FOUR FACTORS CELTICS WARRIORS
FOUR FACTORS CELTICS WARRIORS
EFG 0.629 0.551
OREB 7 12
TOV 12 14
FTM 13 11
PACE 95
ORTG 126 113

Key Stats

Below are a few performance metrics, including the Player Production Average (PPA) Game Score (very similar to the one I used to call Scoreboard Impact Rating). PPA is my overall production metric, which credits players for things they do that help a team win (scoring, rebounding, playmaking, defending) and dings them for things that hurt (missed shots, turnovers, bad defense, fouls).

Game Score (GmSC) converts individual production into points on the scoreboard. The scale is the same as points and reflects each player’s total contributions for the game. The lowest possible GmSC is zero.

PPA is a per possession metric designed for larger data sets. In small sample sizes, the numbers can get weird. But some readers prefer it, so I’m including PPA scores as well. Reminder: in PPA, 100 is average, higher is better and replacement level is 45. For a single game, replacement level isn’t much use, and I reiterate the caution about small samples producing weird results.

POSS is the number of possessions each player was on the floor in this game.

PTS = points scored

ORTG = offensive rating, which is points produced per individual possessions x 100. League average this season is 111.7. Points produced is not the same as points scored. It includes the value of assists and offensive rebounds, as well as sharing credit when receiving an assist.

USG = offensive usage rate. Average is 20%.

ORTG and USG are versions of stats created by Wizards assistant coach Dean Oliver and modified slightly by me. ORTG is an efficiency measure that accounts for the value of shooting, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. USG includes shooting from the floor and free throw line, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.

Key Stats: Celtics

CELTICS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
CELTICS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Al Horford 33 65 26 172 19.6% 327 34.5 9
Marcus Smart 30 59 18 178 15.3% 318 30.7 -1
Derrick White 32 63 21 149 19.3% 197 20.2 25
Jaylen Brown 38 75 24 97 30.3% 140 17.2 22
Payton Pritchard 16 31 8 213 11.6% 315 15.8 14
Robert Williams III 24 48 8 133 11.0% 155 12.1 -1
Daniel Theis 6 12 3 308 6.0% 128 2.5 -3
Jayson Tatum 42 83 12 89 24.5% 7 1.0 16
Grant Williams 16 32 0 84 6.7% 6 0.3 -6
Malik Fitts 1 2 0 0.0% 0 0.0 -3
Nik Stauskas 1 2 0 0.0% 0 0.0 -3
Luke Kornet 1 2 0 0.0% 0 0.0 -3
Juwan Morgan 1 2 0 0.0% 0 0.0 -3
Sam Hauser 1 2 0 0.0% 0 0.0 -3

Key Stats: Warriors

WARRIORS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
WARRIORS MIN POSS PTS ORTG USG PPA GmSC +/-
Stephen Curry 38 76 34 129 30.3% 226 28.0 -9
Andrew Wiggins 35 69 20 125 18.7% 149 16.8 -11
Otto Porter Jr. 24 47 12 198 9.8% 211 16.0 -18
Kevon Looney 25 50 4 124 16.7% 154 12.6 -2
Klay Thompson 39 77 15 124 14.4% 88 11.0 -9
Nemanja Bjelica 1 2 3 299 60.9% 2054 5.3 3
Andre Iguodala 12 24 7 155 19.3% 104 4.0 -6
Jonathan Kuminga 1 2 0 0.0% 0 0.0 3
Juan Toscano-Anderson 1 2 0 0.0% 0 0.0 3
Moses Moody 1 2 0 0.0% 0 0.0 3
Draymond Green 38 75 4 54 19.7% -78 0.0 -1
Jordan Poole 25 50 9 82 22.5% -48 0.0 -19
Damion Lee 1 2 0 0 45.5% -570 0.0 3