Celtics set for visit by Durant, Warriors
BOSTON — If Celtics fans had their way, and if their dreams had come true, Kevin Durant would be playing for Boston instead of the Golden State Warriors when the teams meet Friday night.
Last summer, when Durant was deciding where to spend the next years of his career, the Celtics put on a big push, bringing their players and Tom Brady to a meeting with Durant on Long Island, N.Y.
However, Durant spurned the Celtics and also spurned his former team, leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Bay Area.
It could make for an interesting reception by the TD Garden folks.
“What can they be mad about?” Durant said Wednesday. “I never played there, I never said I was going there. They're going to support their team.
“It's one of the best fan bases in the league. Top five, easily. So no matter who goes in there, they're going to boo them. But I have no attachment to Boston at all.”
Buttering them up — sort of — may not keep the boos from raining down on Durant, but it will make for an interesting night.
The Warriors lost just nine games in their record-setting regular season last year. One of those defeats was to the Celtics, in Oakland on April 1 — and Boston was this close to being the only team in the NBA to beat Golden State twice.
On Dec. 11, with TD Garden rocking, the Warriors rallied for a 124-119 double-overtime win against the Celtics, which gave Golden State a 24-0 record at the time. The Warriors' record opening streak ended at Milwaukee in the next game, at the end of a seven-game road trip.
The Warriors, who actually won their 28th straight regular-season game in Boston, trailed by five with 2:07 left in regulation, then played through a sloppy first overtime and then won the 58-minute game.
“We continue to fight. We believe in ourselves,” Golden State forward Draymond Green said that night. “We believe in each other and we trust each other. So, nothing new. The same old same old, which has made us who we are.”
They look a little different this season after failing to hold a 3-1 lead and losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in last year's NBA Finals. Durant arrived, and some key parts, such as Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut, left. However, coach Steve Kerr's team is 9-2 and hits Boston for the second game of a four-game road trip having already done something special.
The Warriors have won five straight after a 127-121 victory at Toronto on Wednesday. They recorded at least 30 assists and shot 50 percent or better in all five games of their streak — the first team since the 1990 Chicago Bulls to pull that off.
And they meet a Celtics team that has been battling through the injuries suffered by Al Horford — the big name brought in instead of Durant — and Jae Crowder. The latter returned to practice Thursday, and both appear close. But having either of them for this game appears doubtful at best.
After Durant went west, Crowder, in an interview with MassLive, said, “That team is for sure the villain of the league. Every other NBA guy, friends of mine, are really disgusted from how the league is turning on that standpoint. Everybody is joining together. Everybody wants to go to Golden State or Cleveland.”
On Wednesday night, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, the guards who have to deal with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on Friday, combined for 48 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists in Boston's win over the undermanned Dallas Mavericks — Thomas putting on a one-man show down the stretch.
The little big man, who has yet to score fewer than 23 points in a game this season, scored 22 in the fourth quarter, 20 in the final 6:01. Bradley had the other two Boston baskets in the run and also grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds in the win that lifted the Celtics to 6-5 on the season.
The same night against the Raptors, Curry scored 35 points and dished out seven assists, while Durant went for 30 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Curry is averaging 33.6 points per game and Durant 25.4 during the five-game winning streak.