After a nip-and-tuck game, Boston eventually won by a comfortable margin, riding a 17-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull ahead at Chase Center in San Francisco.
According to ESPN, it was the second-largest scoring run in the final quarter of a Finals game over the last 50 seasons.
Al Horford led the way for the Celtics with 26 points, while Jaylen Brown had 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Jayson Tatum pitched in a double-double performance of 12 points and 13 assists. Derrick White added 21 points off the bench.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said his players were “down,” but made a point to give Boston credit.
“You want to go out and win the first one,” Kerr told the media.
“We had every opportunity, 12-point lead going into the fourth. Guys are bummed, as you would expect. But it’s a seven-game series for a reason. I think you give Boston credit. They came in and earned the win. Played a great fourth quarter. We’ll come in, watch the film and see where we can get better, and you know, it’s one game.”
It all started so well for the Warriors.
The team’s talisman, Steph Curry, erupted for 21 points in the first quarter, setting a new NBA Finals record for three-pointers made in a single quarter.
Behind Curry’s red-hot shooting — he finished with a game-high 34 points — Golden State had a 87-72 lead with 2:10 left in the third quarter.
But then, with its stout defense and resilient offense, the Celtics came roaring back.
Boston finished the game on a 48-18 run — including the 17-0 fourth-quarter run — to stun the Warriors on their home court and take a potentially vital 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Although the loss will be a shock to the system to Golden State, history shows they don’t often let one loss turn into anything worse — the Warriors twice before lost Game 1 of a playoff series, and both times have won Game 2.
And despite the shocking nature of the result, three-time NBA champion Draymond Green stressed calm.
“It’s fine,” Green told the reporters. “You get a chance to do something else, do it in a different way, embrace the challenge.
“We’ve always embraced challenges. It’s no different. We’ll embrace this one. So no, it’s not a hit to the confidence at all, not one bit. It’s just nothing to panic about.”
Game 2 of the NBA Finals is on Sunday at Chase Center.