SAN FRANCISCO — Steph Curry was the last to leave the court after the Warriors’ brutal Game 1 loss to Boston in the NBA finals. The three-time champion is in unfamiliar territory, so maybe he needed to soak that in.
Curry has experienced a Game 1 playoff loss for just a third time in his illustrious career. The first in the conference finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder team they beat in seven games. The second was against the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 finals with Kevin Durant injured.
This one was a little different. A healthy Warriors team carried a 12 point lead into the fourth quarter, then watched the Celtics hit nine three pointers, outscore them 40-15 and waltz off their home turf with a 1-0 series lead.
A fourth quarter comeback fueled by a 3-point flurry? Boston beat Curry and Golden State at their own game.
“It’s going to be tough to beat Boston if they hit 21 threes and they are getting combined 11 from Horford and White,” coach Steve Kerr said after the loss.
There’s a little bit of luck the Warriors can find solace in. Al Horford, a 33% 3-point shooter, went 6-of-8 from 3. Derrick White, a 31% 3-point shooter, went 5-of-8.
“Yeah, 15-for-23 from those guys, eh, you know, so, we’ll be fine,” Draymond Green said.
Some defensive breakdowns and slow rotations helped Boston score from 3 at a 51% clip on Thursday. But the Warriors hit 19 3-pointers of their own, seven from Curry.
Boston gave Curry enough space defensively for him to put on a spectacle. He hit 6 3-pointers in the first quarter set an NBA finals record, scoring 21 points to set up the Warriors in the fast-track to victory.
“Just playing aggressive, knowing — playing the way I know how to play. I think I found a lot of space obviously in the first quarter and just was trying to ride that wave as long as I could,” he said.”
But then Boston amped up the pressure and threw some traps at Curry. He went scoreless in the second quarter, scored nine in a third quarter the Warriors won by 14 points and was held to just four points in the disastrous fourth quarter.
“They are obviously a good defensive team, but we created enough good looks offensively to win the game tonight. Just couldn’t get enough stops. You know, let the lead melt away in the fourth,” Curry said. “There’s a lot of bright spots in how we played. Got to get over the tough feeling of letting one slip away.”
The collapse wasn’t just because the Celtics’ hit six straight 3-pointers. Their suffocating defense forced four costly turnovers — including two from Green — and demanded that any other player not named Steph make a play.
Jordan Poole scored nine points and was minus-19 in his 25 minutes. Klay Thompson scored 15 points on 3-of-7 shooting from behind the 3-point line.
“They have good size and athleticism at every position pretty much. They put a lot of pressure on you. But I thought we had some really good moments. We had 38 in the third quarter. We had a good run there,” Kerr said. “It was mainly the fourth quarter that got us. So we feel confident with our ability to score against them. But like I said, you give up 40 in the fourth and the other team makes 21 threes, it’s going to be tough to win.”