Steve Kerr explains Warriors' defensive breakdown late in loss to Celtics

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Kerr explains Dubs' defensive breakdown on Brown 3-pointer originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Steph Curry gave the Warriors a three-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining in regulation, and all they had to do was play one more solid defensive possession to close out what would have been an impressive road win over the Boston Celtics.

But Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla elected not to call a timeout, so the Warriors couldn't set their defense. They had to react and communicate as the play was developing.

What happened was a defensive breakdown that allowed Jaylen Brown to hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 18.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Boston would go on to win 121-118 in overtime.

With Jayson Tatum sagging behind the play, Marcus Smart brought the ball across the half-court line and Malcolm Brogdon set a screen to free up the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Klay Thompson and Curry both initially stayed with Brogdon, leaving Smart wide open at the 3-point line.

With Tatum still not in the picture and Brown on the other wing, Andrew Wiggins wanted Jordan Poole to pick up Brown. But with Smart coming free at the 3-point line, Poole jumped at him, leaving Brown unguarded. When Smart saw Poole, he quickly audibled and passed to Brown, who drained the 3-pointer that ultimately would force overtime. Wiggins and Draymond Green didn't have enough time to recover and close out on Brown.

Green, who was defending Al Horford in the right corner, understandably was furious with how the play unfolded.

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After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked what happened on the sequence.

"I haven't seen the replay yet but in that situation, the whole game plan is no threes," Kerr told reporters in Boston. "And there was no timeout. They didn't take a timeout, they just came down and played. That's where the guys need to be able to decipher that on the fly. You can debate fouling there. It's pretty early to foul, generally, you gotta [have] under eight [seconds], under 10 [seconds], everybody's going to debate that forever in this game. But what you can't do is give up an open three. So the whole idea is switch everything and run them off the line and don't let them line up a three. So we had a defensive breakdown that led to the opening."

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The Warriors had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Curry missed a 3-pointer and the Celtics gained possession with 0.5 seconds remaining before calling a timeout. Boston was unable to get a shot before the buzzer, sending the game to overtime where they outscored Golden State 15-12.

It was a game the Warriors are going to kick themselves for squandering. They know they can beat the Celtics, and they had a chance to sweep the two-game season series from the best team in the Eastern Conference.

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Instead, the Warriors suffered a loss that drops them to 22-23 on the season with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers looming Friday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

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