Steve Kerr

Warriors' defensive plan vs. Brown, Celtics fails miserably

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The Warriors made a decision early on to ease up their defensive pressure on Jaylen Brown near the perimeter Sunday at TD Garden, with hopes of preventing the Boston Celtics from getting much going.

Like pretty much everything else, that didn’t work out very well for Golden State.

The Celtics still found a lot of success in the paint, while Brown took full advantage of the sagging defense and torched the Warriors for 19 of his game-leading 29 points in the first quarter on the way to an easy 140-88 victory that ended Golden State's eight-game road winning streak.

Afterward, Warriors coach Steve Kerr tried to explain his thinking behind the strategy while noting other costly breakdowns that factored into the blowout loss.

“We wanted Draymond [Green] to be able to help on drives and make sure that we weren’t giving up easy stuff in the paint,” Kerr told reporters. “The killer was the transition, from the beginning all the way until the end. They got 42 transition points. You’re not winning a game with that kind of lack of defensive awareness.”

Indeed, this was a defensive breakdown across the board -- and one Brown certainly was thankful for.

No matter what the Warriors tried, it seemed like whatever the Celtics wanted, they got. 

Brown made that clear from the jump when he nailed a game-opening 3-pointer on an open look, then came back down the court the next time and made a turnaround jumper. The former Cal star missed four of his next five shots then warmed back up and took over.

The fast start led to the Celtics becoming only the third team in NBA history to have a 44-point lead at halftime.

The 52-point final margin was the largest between the two teams in NBA history.

Brown led the way, shooting a crisp 11 of 19 (57.9 percent) from the field with five threes.

It all started with the Warriors’ decision to sag off Brown with an eye on better defending the paint.

While it’s easy to question that decision now, Green – the Warriors’ best defender – supported it.

“I thought it was fun to try,” Green told reporters at TD Garden. “I was actually all for it. ‘Let’s try and see if it works. If it don’t, oh well. If it does, we found something.’ 

"It didn’t work, so we move on.”

Knowing Golden State was on a nice roll as one of the NBA’s hottest teams going into the game, Brown said he and the Celtics wanted to get out to a fast start.

And they did.

“We knew we wanted to come out and play well,” Brown said. “This team has been playing well over the last 10 or so games. We were all ready from the jump.”

The Celtics own the best record in the NBA and have seen a wide variety of defensive looks from opponents who have been willing to try just about anything to slow Boston down.

The Warriors had been one of the NBA’s top five defensive teams over the previous 15 games before the Boston blowout.

The defensive thinking going into the day seemed sound enough, but it didn’t work one bit.

When the Warriors showed early their willingness to sag off Brown, Celtics coach Joe Mazzula couldn’t stop smiling. Getting Brown going definitely was a boost, but not necessarily the focus going in.

“We were really grateful for that,” Mazzula said. “Teams are going to guard us in different ways. We just have to say open-minded to what gives us the best chance to win. There’s a game plan, but then when the game starts, the game will tell us what we need to do.

"I just kept saying thank you and kept empowering Jaylen. Credit to his teammates for empowering him to just continue to play.”

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