The Celtics are once again facing one of the tougher teams in the Western Conference, as they will travel to Oracle Arena to play against the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors, who have been blindsided by the recent loss of Kevin Durant, have had a combined record of 2-2 heading into this matchup against a very gritty Boston Celtics squad. Golden State guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson struggled with Durant out initially, but their recent stretch of play should be reassuring for a Golden State fanbase that has been fearing a drop-off in seeding.
The Celtics, meanwhile, have struggled in recent stretches of play, as Al Horford has been sidelined with an elbow injury which kept him out of games against the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers, both losses by the Celtics. Although Horford can be a headache on the offensive end at times, any Celtics fan that thinks the Celtics would be better without the big man probably doesn’t understand the impact he has on this Celtics team.
With Horford in the lineup this season, the Celtics have 33 wins and 17 losses, and without him the Celtics have an abysmal 7 and 8 record. Although I give Horford a hard time for his failure to show up on the offensive end, it would be irresponsible of me to question his impact in seemingly any other facet, especially the distribution of the ball. Horford is one of the best passing big men in the league, and he should be a big factor defensively in this game against Golden State.
I expect the Celtics to play a lot of small ball, employing numerous different lineups against what is arguably the best team when it comes to small ball tactics. I also expect Jaylen Brown to be a big factor on both ends of the floor, as his athleticism and aggressive scoring mentality should be a handful for Patrick Mccaw and whoever has to match up with the rising rookie.