On Thursday night in Boston, the Golden State Warriors will attempt to secure a victory in only their second game without Willie Cauley-Stein, who was traded to Dallas on Saturday. Beating the Celtics would be no small victory, as they are battling for a top four spot in the Eastern Conference.
This year’s Warriors are miles from the teams that Steve Kerr is used to coaching, with their win total the lowest in the NBA. Ironically for Golden State, the second-round pick it received in the Cauley-Stein deal is still a remnant from the 2016 Andrew Bogut trade. Unfortunately, it in no way helps them recover this lost season with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson out.
Brad Stephens hasn’t even been able to tell whether the Celtics are as good as the world seemed to think earlier this season. The departure of Kyrie Irving, the return of Gordon Hayward, and the addition of Kemba Walker seems to have thrown the team chemistry off a bit. And of course, like the Warriors and many others, they too have suffered through injuries early on and recently.
It’s been all doom and gloom for a while now in Golden State. Not having Thompson and Curry for most or all of this season has set the Warriors back, with a number of young players getting the lion’s share of the minutes.
The Warriors rank 30th in the league in field-goal percentage, 25th in three-point shooting percentage and points per game, and their opponents score 114.2 points per game against them, which ranks 22nd in the league.
Boston has re-defined the definition of the injury bug over the last couple of weeks. Three of their starting five began the week with a day-to-day designation: Jaylen Brown with an ankle, Marcus Smart with a left hand sprain, and Jayson Tatum nursing a groin injury. Enes Kanter hasn’t played since Jan. 22 and is due to miss a few more weeks with a hip contusion.
Injuries aside, the Celtics are still having a solid 2019-20 season. They’ve already won 30 games, sit in fourth in their conference, and have three starters that average over 20 points per game in Brown, Tatum, and Walker. Over the last two weeks, Walker is averaging 26.5 points per game, while Tatum isn’t far behind with 23.25. Boston will be just fine if it stays the course.
You’re going to want to tune into this game as an NBA fan to check in the health of the Celtics first and foremost, but if Draymond Green and the Warriors bring their A-game, they could pull out some magic on the road.
The game will be nationally televised on TNT, and tip-off is set for 8 pm ET on Thursday night at the TD Garden in Boston.