As improbable as it sounds, it turned out that a road meeting with the reigning champion Golden State Warriors was all the ailing Boston Celtics needed to get themselves back on track.
But getting themselves on track would be kind to the juggernaut Warriors, as the C's straight-up whooped them in a wire-to-wire victory full of runs and featuring double-digit leads almost exclusively.
The Celtics opened the night on an 11-0 run, and while the Warriors would make it a one-point game by scoring 12 of the 14 points that followed, the Celtics regained their edge behind a 12-0 start to their second quarter. It was perhaps Boston's best display of team basketball to date in an up-and-down season, with tremendous defensive efforts, rotations, and an assist-happy game that got everybody involved the way this team drew it up when camp first opened six months ago.
It was enough for a 73-48 advantage at the half, and the Green's domination simply continued from there.
In what finished as a 51 percent shooting night, the Celtics at one point saw their lead balloon to a staggering 32 points, and the blowout nature of this affair forced Kevin Durant and Steph Curry to spectator duty in the fourth quarter.
On the Celtic side of things, Kyrie Irving sported a cheerful and encouraging disposition, and finished with 19 points and 11 assists. Jaylen Brown, who is determined to get rid of the 'toxic' energy around the team, was fantastic for the Celtics, too, with 18 points in 27 minutes off the Green bench, and with some emphatic plays at both ends of the floor.
But it was Gordon Hayward that truly stole the show for the Celtics, as he provided a much-welcomed 30-point effort off the Boston bench with makes on 12 of his 18 attempts, including a 4-for-6 mark from deep.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 6, 2019
Hayward's ridiculous night made him just the third Celtic in team history to have three games of at least 30 points coming off the bench, joining a list featuring Kevin McHale and (the legendary) Ricky Davis.
The defeat went down as the worst home loss under Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
The Celtics will aim to avoid a letdown with a Wednesday night head-to-head with the Sacramento Kings.