Celtics hammer Warriors by 52 points behind historic first half at TD Garden

In a season full of statements, the Boston Celtics made their biggest yet Sunday.

The Celtics put up a historic first half against the Golden State Warriors en route to a 140-88 drubbing of the team that defeated them two seasons ago in the NBA Finals. With the win, they became the first team in NBA history to win three regular-season games by 50 points or more. They did so while sitting their starters for the majority of the second half.

The game started as expected for a matchup of two competitive NBA teams. Stephen Curry tied the game a 21-21 with a jump shot midway through the first quarter as the NBA's marquee matchup of the day looked like a good one. Then the wheels fell off for the Warriors.

Boston opens game up with 61-17 run

Three Jaylen Brown 3-pointers on consecutive Celtics possessions sparked a 14-0 Boston run in the first quarter. Brown finished the first quarter with 19 points.

The Celtics extended the run to 23-1 to finish the first quarter with a 44-22 lead as Boston connected on 10 3-point attempts.

The second quarter belonged to Jayson Tatum. The Celtics All-Star took the scoring baton from Brown with 17 points in the stanza.

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Curry, meanwhile, repeatedly chucked and missed contested 3-point shots, including a pair of air balls. By halftime, he’d shot 0-of-9 from beyond the arc in the worst 3-point shooting half of his career.

By halftime, Tatum had 22 points, while Brown led all scorers with 25. They alone outscored the Warriors as Boston entered the break with an 82-38 lead on the heels of a 61-17 run. The 44-point advantage marked the largest halftime lead for the Celtics in the storied history of the franchise.

Jaylen Brown helped spur the Celtics to a historic blowout of the Warriors on Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Jaylen Brown helped spur the Celtics to a historic blowout of the Warriors on Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) (Maddie Meyer via Getty Images)

Warriors wave white flag in third quarter

Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn't bother to bring Curry and Klay Thompson back for the third quarter. Neither played after halftime. The Celtics, meanwhile, extended their dominance and their lead to 51 points in the third quarter.

With his Celtics holding a 99-48 lead, head coach Joe Mazulla called a timeout and mercifully pulled his starters. There was 7:16 remaining in the third quarter. From there, bench players from both teams finished out the game.

Brown finished with a game-high 29 points alongside three rebounds and three assists. He shot 11-of-19 from the field and 5-of-10 from 3-point distance. Tatum added 27 points, three rebounds, five assists and a steal. He shot 9-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-5 from 3-point distance.

Curry finished with four points, three assists and one rebound while shooting 2-of-13 from the field, including the aforementioned 0-for-9 effort from long distance. The point total was his lowest since March 2022. Moses Moody was Golden State's only starter to score in double figures with 11 points.

As a team, the Celtics shot 55.2% from the field and 51% (25-of-49) from 3-point distance. Golden State shot 39.1% from the field and 17.1% (7-of-41) from beyond the arc. The Celtics assisted on 35 of their 53 made field goals and turned the ball over just seven times. Boston forced 17 Golden State turnovers. The Warriors fell to 32-28 and remain in a dogfight for the West play-in at ninth place in the conference.

Can Celtics translate regular-season success to a title?

With the win, the Celtics improved their league-best record to 48-12. Their previous 50-plus point victories came via a 136-86 win over Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 14 and a 155-104 win over the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 1. The 52-point final margin is the third-largest in Celtics franchise history.

The win improved an already historic average margin of victory for Boston, which entered Sunday's matchup beating opponents by an average of 10.73 points per game. That margin would rank as the eighth-best in NBA history if carried for a full season.

In a season where parity marks the top of the Western Conference with the Oklahoma City Thunder and reigning champion Denver Nuggets trailing the first-place Minnesota Timberwolves by a half game, the Celtics are dominant in the East. Sunday's victory further set up expectations that the Celtics are the clear favorites to win the Eastern Conference with anything short of the franchise's first NBA championship since 2008 likely being a disappointment.