For what seems like the third or fourth time already this season, the Boston Celtics have a signature win. In a early season marquee match-up against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, the Celtics validated their winning streak in a big way. They silenced critics who discounted their streak based on their opponents and showed that their defense is not to be messed with. With all that said, this was still a regular season game in November, not a championship game. So what can we take away from this game? Let’s walk through each factor that lead to the incredible win.

Jaylen Brown Shows Out on an Emotional Night

Brown played like he was possessed last night. There were spurts throughout the game where Brown looked like the best player on the court. On both ends of the floor, Brown’s athleticism and hustle were on full display. He knocked down shots, played exceptional defense on Kevin Durant, and single-handedly brought the Celtics back from a 17-point second half deficit.

Brown was dominant, and only after the game did the public find out that he was also playing with a heavy heart. On Wednesday night, Brown lost his best friend Trevon Steede. Brown and Steede played high school basketball together in Georgia, and Brown’s emotional post-game press conference told the story of how close they were. Brown was a man on a mission last night, and now we know why.

Kyrie Unmasked

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie is not a fan of his mask. After playing two games with the mask, Kyrie is shooting just 12-36 from the field. In the game against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, Kyrie continued to fiddle with the mask, taking it off of his face any time play stopped. Against the Warriors, Kyrie had seen, or not seen, enough.

Kyrie discarded the mask in the third quarter, against the recommendation of the medical staff, and he took over in the fourth quarter. The shots still weren’t falling, but two layups and a few trips to the free throw line kept the Celtics in front. It remains to be seen if Kyrie will forgo the mask in the upcoming games, but something will have to change. Mask or no mask, Kyrie is an incredible talent, and players like Kyrie find a way to win games no matter the struggles they had earlier in the game.

Tatum and Horford Stay Consistent for Celtics

The Warriors game was, arguably, the first time that Jayson Tatum looked outmatched this season. He got beat back door by Durant on the first Warrior bucket of the game and looked tentative early when being guarded by Draymond Green. And yet, Tatum was able to stick to it and finish the game with 12 points. Tatum scored just two points in the first half and had just five points heading into the fourth quarter. But in what has become common for the rookie, he was crucial to maintaining a lead and securing the win. Tatum knocked down five big free throws late in the fourth, two of which put the Celtics up by four points with six seconds left in the game. Tatum looked like a rookie to start the game, but ended it like a seasoned vet.

Al Horford

In typical Al Horford fashion, his second straight double-double flew under the radar in the Celtics’ big win over Golden State. Horford lead the team in plus/minus at +16, was second on the team with 18 points and first on the team with 11 rebounds. While players like Kyrie and Marcus Morris struggled to shoot the ball, Horford shot 7-11 from the floor, continuing his impressive shooting streak. Over the past three games, Horford has shot 76 percent from the field. He won’t get the headlines, but Horford has been the most important player on the Celtics this season. 

The Celtics’ toughest test is behind them. In upcoming games Boston plays the likes of Dallas, Miami, Atlanta, Indiana, and Orlando. It’s tough to say how long this streak will last, but playing elite level defense will give them a shot to beat anybody.