Golden State Warriors: Can the Boston Celtics be considered a new rival?

Golden State Warriors, Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Golden State Warriors, Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Could it be possible that the Golden State Warriors have a new rival in the Boston Celtics?

The Golden State Warriors‘ seven-game winning streak came to an end on Thursday night at the hands of the red-hot Boston Celtics, who have now won 14 consecutive games, by a final tally of 92-88.

It looked as if the Warriors had control early in the third quarter taking a 17-point lead, but the Celtics responded with a 19-0 run, with second-year player Jaylen Brown in the middle of all of it. He played sturdy defense on Kevin Durant and made perimeter shots on the other end.

In the end, dynamic point guard Kyrie Irving drew a foul on Draymond Green to give the Celtics a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Superstar point guard Stephen Curry, who had one of the most forgettable games of his career of nine points on 3-of-14 shooting had this to say about possibly seeing the Celtics later down the road in the playoffs:

“It’s very, very, likely right?” He later went on to say, “I heard the weather is great here in June.”

Now, it remains to be seen if Curry was taking a veiled shot at the Cavaliers, the team who has vanquished the Celtics in the playoffs the past couple of years, or if it was major compliments to how Boston played last night.

It does beg the question: Are the Celtics the newest Warriors rival and challenger to the throne?

Thursday’s game was just one game, but the way the Celtics came out as an aggressor on both sides of the ball against the Warriors has led me to believe that they are a legitimate threat to the Warriors and their championship aspirations this year.

This does not mean that the Warriors are not the title favorites, they still are. It’s just that the Celtics are playing extremely well under head coach Brad Stevens, it’s hard to look at them as not a threat to the defending NBA champions.

More from Blue Man Hoop

The Celtics’ defensive rating through the first 16 games of the season is at a stingy 97.2, the best in the league. Part of the reason why Boston’s defensive rating is so low is because the players such as Brown, Tatum and Irving have bought into Stevens’ defensive system.

Another part is the athleticism and length the Celtics have on the floor against their opponents. Along with the best defensive rating in the league, Boston is holding its opponents to a low 94.1 points per game average. It is even more impressive that the Celtics held the Warriors to only 88 points, six below their average of 94.1.

The offense for the Celtics is not as crisp as they are only averaging 102 points per game, which is 24th out of the 30 teams. Although, their offense is not as productive as their defense, players such as Brown and Tatum, along with big man Al Horford are making big contributions in the absence of the injured Gordon Hayward.

Brown is making a huge leap from his rookie to his sophomore year averaging 15.1 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game and an assist per game from what his averages were in his rookie year of 6.6 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game and 0.8 assists per game. He displayed his improvement on Thursday night scoring 22 points, grabbing seven boards and adding two blocks.

Tatum, the 19-year-old rookie out of a Duke is turning heads with his athleticism and his numbers. In his first 16 games as an NBA pro, he is averaging 13.9 points per game on 49.7 percent shooting from the field, including 48.9 percent from beyond the arc and 83.6 percent from the free throw line. So far, Tatum is showing he can play in the NBA and I can only imagine him being a thorn in the Warriors side in the future with his size, length and athleticism.

Next: Top 3 plays from GSW at BOS

Combined with the coaching, young talent and stingy talent, there is no reason to think that the Celtics will play the Warriors in June, and provide stiff competition to the defending champs.