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Still seeking NBA Finals revenge, Celtics face Warriors

Jun 16, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) handles the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the fourth quarter in game six of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The surging Boston Celtics can even their regular season series with the visiting Golden State Warriors when the teams meet Thursday night.

Golden State, which beat Boston in last year’s NBA Finals, defeated the Celtics 123-107 at home on Dec. 10. Klay Thompson (34 points) and Stephen Curry (32) led the Warriors’ offense in that victory. Curry’s 32-point effort included six 3-pointers. Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 31 points and nine rebounds.

Brown has missed Boston’s last three games with a groin injury that occurred against the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 11. He is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game.

Brown is averaging 27.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said he expected Brown to miss “about a week.”

The Warriors (16.3) and Celtics (15.6) enter Thursday’s game ranked first and second among NBA teams in 3-pointers made per game. It will be Golden State’s first trip to Boston since clinching its fourth championship in eight seasons in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last year.

The matchup also features two of the league’s top scorers in Boston’s Jayson Tatum at 31.1 points per game and Curry at 29.3 points, although with 30 games played, Curry is just outside of qualification for the scoring-title chase.

Tatum passed Larry Bird for most 50-point games in Celtics’ history when he scored a season-high 51 points during Boston’s 130-118 victory over Charlotte on Monday. It was the fifth time in his NBA career he scored at least 50 points in a regular-season game and his first 50-plus point effort since last season. Bird scored at least 50 points four times.

Tatum scored 49 in a win over Miami earlier this season, and had a career-high 60 points against San Antonio in 2021.

“It’s been a while since I scored 50, so I needed that one,” Tatum said.

Monday’s victory extended Boston’s winning streak to seven games. What has been the key to the recent success?

“Just how together we are playing on both ends,” Tatum said. “We really got almost any shot we wanted every time down the floor. We got a paint threat, kick it out, two or three extra passes from a good shot to a great shot. Everyone is playing so unselfish and the right way. Hopefully we keep it up.”

Curry tossed in 41 points in Golden State’s most recent game, a 127-118 road win against the Washington Wizards on Monday. The Warriors entered that contest having lost four of their last five.

Jordan Poole added 32 points in the win, and Golden State received 17 points, 10 assists and six rebounds from Draymond Green.

“This was a big win,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “When you’re .500, every win is a big win.

“Steph and Draymond led the way. Steph was incredible down the stretch with his shot-making and Draymond with his defense and playmaking. I thought everybody out there was battling in the fourth quarter. It was not our best night defensively, but we made stops when we had to and Steph really took over in the fourth quarter.”

The game was close until Curry and Poole made back-to-back 3-pointers that handed the Warriors a 123-114 lead with 1:29 remaining.

“It was kind of a gritty, dig-deep type of night,” Curry said. “A big win for us.”

Boston guard Malcolm Brogdon cut his forehead during a collision with Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball with 7:13 remaining in the second quarter Monday. He left the game but returned later in the quarter.

Golden State has a 5-17 record in road games this season.

–Field Level Media