Charles Barkley Guarantees Celtics Won’t Beat Warriors Or Hold Them Under 94, Is Wrong About Both

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics‘ victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night was so convincing, NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley did a one-eighty on them in a span of about two and a half hours.

“How in the world has this team won 13 straight games? I’m sitting here watching, and I’ve watched them play probably five times, and they would not be favored in the Eastern Conference,” the hot-take artist said at halftime, when the Celtics trailed 47-42. “And I’m not talking about Cleveland. I’m not even talking about Cleveland. I’m not sure they could beat Toronto or Washington. … I’m just saying, I’m not sure how they’re winning these games.”

The answer, which Barkley apparently hadn’t gleaned from the five games he claimed he’d watched, is defense.

The Celtics have the best adjusted defensive rating in the NBA (which calculates the number of points a team or player surrenders in 100 possessions, and adjusts based on the quality of opponent), at 97.75. The gap between their adjusted defensive rating and the second-best one is the same as the gap between the second-best and the 15th-best.

Still, before the game tipped off, Barkley guaranteed the Warriors would beat the Celtics, who, according to him, wouldn’t hold the reigning champs to under their average points-against for the season, 94 and change.

The Celtics then went out and held Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to a combined 22 points on 8-of-32 shooting, winning 92-88.

The Round Mound of Rebound was big enough to admit he’d been incorrect in his assessment of Boston.

“I was wrong. They played terrific. Hats off to the Celtics. And as I told you coming into the season, the MVP so far is Kyrie Irving. He’s the front-runner for MVP, regardless of what anybody says.