SAN FRANCISCO — The Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors had the top two defenses in the NBA during the regular season.
So naturally, Game 1 of the NBA Finals was a shootout.
Boston made more shots and stunned Golden State for a 120-108 victory and 1-0 series lead. Despite 34 points from Warriors star Steph Curry, the Celtics made a barrage of 3-pointers, including their first seven of the fourth quarter.
Boston used balanced scoring — five players in double figures and three players with at least 20 points — and overcame a tough shooting night from Jayson Tatum who was 3-for-17 from the field.
Al Horford had a team-high 26 points, Jaylen Brown added 24 and Derrick White scored 21 off the bench for the Celtics, who are now 8-2 on the road in the 2022 playoffs
Game 2 is Sunday in San Francisco (8 pm ET, ABC).
Here are five key takeaways from Boston’s Game 1 win:
Huge fourth quarter for Celtics
Trailing 92-80 to start the fourth quarter, Boston outscored Golden State 40-16 in the final 12 minutes. The Celtics made their first seven 3s of the quarter.
In the fourth, they were 15-for-22 from the field and 9-for-12 on 3s. Boston took a page from Golden State’s playbook.
Horford scored 11 points, Brown had 10 points and Marcus Smart and White each added six.
Tatum made up for his lack of scoring (12 points) with 13 assists.
Modern-day NBA on display
Fifteen of the first 25 shots in Game 1 were 3-pointers, and 18 of Boston’s first 30 shots were 3s. And both teams connected at an impressive rate in the first half.
Boston’s 3-point shooting was the deciding factor, making 21-for-41 from that range. The 21 3s were the second-most in a Finals game, and the 40 3s made by both teams set a Finals record.
Six Celtics made 3s, including six by Horford, four by Smart, three by Payton Pritchard and two by Brown.
Curry cooks, cools off, sizzles again, fades
Curry scored 21 of his 34 points in the first quarter on 7-for-9 shooting, including 6-for-8 on 3-pointers. His six 3s set a Finals record for a quarter, surpassing the record shared by Kenny Smith, Ray Allen and Curry (on two occasions).
He had too many wide-open looks and helped Golden State to a 32-28 lead after one quarter. Curry didn’t score in the second quarter, missing both shots, and collected his third foul with 53.8 seconds left in the first half.
His scoring returned in the third and he had 30 points headed into the fourth quarter, but only had four in nine minutes.
Big third quarter for Warriors
Boston took a 56-54 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, Golden State outscored Boston 38-24 and had a 92-80 lead after three.
The Celtics shot 36.8% as they continued a playoff trend of bad third quarters that have led to playoff losses.
The Warriors were 6-for-13 on 3s, and Andrew Wiggins scored 12 of his 20 points in the quarter.
Warriors hit the offensive boards
Kevon Looney and the Warriors worked the offensive glass to their advantage. Midway through the third quarter, Golden State had 11 offensive rebounds leading to 21 points, to just three offensive rebounds for five points for Boston.
Looney had six offensive rebounds, and Draymond Green added three.
It’s tough enough to beat the Warriors. Giving them extra possessions doesn’t help. Three of those offensive rebounds led to Warriors 3s, including on their first possession. Wiggins missed a 3, Looney secured the miss and kicked out to Curry, who made a 3. Offensive boards ending with a Golden State bucket, especially a 3, are deflating for the opponent.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt,