Have Celtics cracked code vs. Warriors? Numbers make a compelling case


The Celtics play the Warriors tougher than anybody, and the numbers bear it out. Whether that makes a difference in Tuesday night's showdown between the preseason favorites to reach the NBA Finals is anyone's guess.

The Celtics certainly haven't justified their end of that equation, scuffling to the fifth seed in the East and putting themselves in a position to open the playoffs on the road. The Warriors, meanwhile, have overcome issues of their own to regain the top seed in the West at 44-19.

Golden State tends to bring out the best in the C's, however, and now would be a good time for Boston to rediscover its mojo.

The two clubs have split each season series since 2016, with Golden State's high-octane offense struggling in very tangible ways. Even after taking the first meeting earlier this year in Boston, 115-111, Golden State finds itself just 4-3 vs. the Celtics in its last seven matchups with a point differential of only plus-nine.

Consider the statistical differences between Golden State vs. Boston and then vs. everyone else since the start of the 2015-16 season.

The Dubs have scored nearly 11 fewer points per game vs. Boston (104.6) than overall (115.5), with similar drops in shooting percentage (.494 vs. .439), 2-point percentage (.550 vs. .496) and especially 3-point percentage (.390 vs. .339). In those seven games, the Celtics have actually outshot the Warriors from 3 (.355 to .339).

Will that matter on Tuesday? Golden State's task will be made more difficult by the absence of All-Star guard Klay Thompson, but the C's have played an entire season with a subpar Gordon Hayward and a banged-up Al Horford, so it's not like Boston is at full strength.

With guards who can shadow Steph Curry and Co. and length on the perimeter, the Celtics have the pieces to make Golden State break a sweat.

In a season begging for something to feel good about, winning out west would be a good place to start.