This wasn't about where these teams were in the standings. This wasn't about who played and who didn't. It wasn't about season-long drama, or what-might-be predictions. This was about the here and the now.
This was a gift.
Yes, the final score at TD Garden had the Celtics claiming a 119-114 victory over the Warriors. But the real winner? The great game of basketball.
For that we can thanks two men: Jayson Tatum and Steph Curry.
The box score will show that Tatum scored 44 points, with Curry netting 47. It will also offer the reality that both the Celtics' Kemba Walker (26 points) and Andrew Wiggins of Golden State (22) each had pretty good games.
But those numbers don't do this scene justice.
Remember when Larry Bird and Dominque Wilkins went toe-to-toe nearly 33 years ago? Same deal. Sure, Wilkins netted 47 points and Bird finished with 34 in the Game 7 matchup. But there is a reason they still talk about that game, and it's not because of shooting percentages or plus-minuses. It was because how they did it.
Same goes here.
The shock-and-awe supplied by Curry undoubtedly stole the show. More sofas and chairs were fallen out of Saturday night in reaction to one of the guard's 11 three-pointers than in any five games put together.
And when he kept doing after it spraining his ankle in the fourth quarter, well, that only added to the legend.
As for Tatum, this was more about a player simply needing to serve as a one man gang (with Walker doing just enough along the way). There was no Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams or Evan Fournier. And while Marcus Smart finished with 16 points when the third-best scoring option on the floor at the end of the floor is a player who has netted eight points all season (newly-acquired Jabari Parker), then some heroism is going to be needed.
Thankfully for the Celtics, Tatum played the part of superstar to perfection.
As always, there was other things to dissect in this game ...
- Celtics coach Brad Stevens smartly started to try and double-team Curry at every turn. But too many times the guard was still left with the likes of Grant Williams or Parker on him off switches. And when Curry twisted his ankle, Stevens made no offensive adjustments to pressure the Warriors' star on the defensive end, or hound him bringing up the ball.
- Parker was somewhat of a revelation for the Celtics, finishing with 11 points in 15 minutes on 5-of-6 shooting. While a liability defensively, the former No. 2 overall pick does offer an offensive skill-set the likes of Williams, Tristan Thompson, Luke Kornet or Semi Ojeleye could never offer.
- The Celtics' overall confidence and ball movement is vastly improved, a development that has gone hand-in-hand with Walker's continued improvement.
You get the picture. It was another game with the usual laundry list of storylines.
But we are going to remember where we were the night of April 17, 2021 for two reasons alone: Tatum and Curry.
Thanks to both of them for that.