BOSTON — The Celtics cooled off Stephen Curry early, then shut down the rest of Golden State’s lineup in the second half well enough to overcome their own mistakes.
Boston missed almost half its free throws in the first half and committed seven turnovers in the third quarter, but never let up defensively in a 94-86 win over the Warriors on Friday night.
Curry still led Golden State with 25 points, but that was less than half his total from two nights before when he scored 54 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“I told our guys, ‘If Steph has 54 and we win, I’m taking that. We have to guard everyone else,’” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
The pressure defense cost the Celtics their starting backcourt for much of the second half when guards Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee got into foul trouble, but they had already accomplished their mission by getting Curry out of sync early.
Curry made all 10 of his free throws, but just two in the second half when the Celtics stopped giving him frequent trips to the line and gradually opened a 13-point lead that was too much for the road-weary Warriors to overcome.
Paul Pierce led Boston with 26 points, Jeff Green scored 14 of his 18 in the second half and Kevin Garnett pulled down 13 rebounds in the Celtics’ eighth straight home win.
Although Bradley and Lee finished with eight points apiece and combined for nine fouls, their defensive contributions were recognized by their teammates.
“Our guards, they were ready for tonight’s challenge. Avery set the tone very early,” Garnett said.
Curry finished 6 of 22 from the field as Golden State shot 34 percent (32 for 94). The Warriors were just 16 for 53 (30 percent) in the second half with Curry going 3 for 13, including one 3-point attempt that missed everything and drew taunts of “air-ball!” from Boston fans.