The Boston Celtics just returned from an ugly five-game road trip where they went 1-4. Upon their return, they were greeted by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Boston took care of business in its first home game in nearly two weeks. Now the Celtics face all-time 3-point leader Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. It’s safe to say all of Boston’s eyes will be on the Golden State sharpshooter.
Stephen Curry has changed the game of basketball
It’s debatable whether it’s a good thing or not, but Curry has changed basketball. The 3-point line was introduced to the NBA in 1979 when Boston Celtics guard Chris Ford made the first. It took years for players to warm up to it, but today’s it’s the biggest part of basketball.
Gone are the true back-to-the-basket centers. They’ve been replaced by 3-point-shooting seven-footers. Run-and-gun basketball is taking center stage these days, with most of the running stopping at the arc as players consistently launch long-range shots.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr knows it all too well. After Curry became the NBA’s leader for career 3-pointers Tuesday, the Warriors coach went straight to the box score.
“There were 82 3-pointers taken tonight,” Kerr said, per NBA.com. “So, on a night when he broke the record, the sum of both teams’ 3-point attempts was kind of a testament to Steph’s impact on the league. It’s a different game [now], obviously. But Steph made it a different game.”
To put the 82 3-pointers in perspective, when Michael Jordan and the Bulls faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 1985 NBA playoffs, the teams combined to go 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. Six years after the 3-point line was instituted, two high-scoring teams had five attempts.
Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka summed up Stephen Curry and the Warriors
Curry and the Warriors face the Celtics Friday night with the hype of breaking the record behind him. Although the record is his, his 3-point shooting is still the talk of Boston. Udoka agrees with Kerr that Curry has made basketball a different game.
“He’s changed the game, the way he shoots the ball, obviously,” said Udoka, according to The Boston Herald. “The thing that’s almost more impressive is (Curry broke the record in) 511 less games than Ray Allen. It shows how the game has changed, the attempts, and everything he does. Definitely a revolutionary player and well-deserved. A tough guard.”
Udoka and the Celtics know Curry is going to get his shots. He’ll get his points. Even though they know it’s coming, Udoka and the Celtics will have their hands full trying to contain him.
“Regardless of what we do, the way they all hunt shots for him is very unique. It’s five guys trying to get one guy a shot, let alone the way he opens and stretches the floor out,” said Udoka. “But you can’t get enamored with the threes and the crazy shots, because they get a lot of points in the paint based on how people are defending them, so you have to protect the paint as well.
“Know who you can help off of. It’s very unique. You want to deny him as much as you can and pick him up higher. It presents a lot of things. We have to bring our big higher in the screen and the pick-and-roll.”
The Boston Celtics have more than Curry to worry about
Curry might be the least of Boston’s problems.
The Celtics canceled Friday’s shootaround over COVID-19 concerns. On Thursday, the team announced Jabari Parker had entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. On Friday, they were slapped with some more bad news.
The Celtics will also be without Grant Williams and Al Horford against Golden State. Both players have also entered the league’s protocols. According to ESPN, as of the league’s latest injury report at 10:30 a.m. Friday, the 16 teams playing Friday night had a combined 20 players in the protocols.
Horford has already been affected by COVID-19 this season, testing positive for the virus in October.
The Warriors have also been affected. Guard Jordan Poole will also miss the game for the same reason. He has started all 28 games and is averaging 17.9 points.