The unintentional comedy was too high and bizarre to last. Surely the team with the best record in the NBA would not allow itself to enter March as the butt of this joke.
After being pantsed for a good 17 minutes by the aggressive but callow Celtics, the Warriors midway through the second quarter ended the nonsense, cleared their throats and revved up the league's loudest defensive machine.
And once they did, once they draped themselves all over the Celtics, the laughter stopped and the cold truth emerged in the form of a 106-101 victory Sunday night at TD Garden in Boston.
The Warriors (46-11) won a game in which they trailed by 13 after a quarter and by as much as 26 in the second. The sub-mediocre Celtics were scorching the nets, running a clinic on the team favored to at least reach the NBA Finals.
"They got up 26 points in the first half; I was on the bench laughing," forward Draymond Green said. "I told the guys on the bench there were six minutes left in the second quarter. 'It's a lot of time left, fellas. Just stick with it.'"
[INSTANT REPLAY: Warriors erase 26-point deficit, beat Celtics]
Shortly after Boston went up 56-30 on a Jonas Jerebko 3-pointer with 6:53 left in the second quarter – after which Jerebko allowed himself a broad grin – Warriors coach Steve Kerr used a timeout to make some substantive lineup changes.
Out went David Lee, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa. In came Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green. The Warriors finished the half on a 19-9 run, trimming the deficit to 16 and instilling considerable faith in their comeback.
"We know how good we are," Green said. "We know we weren't playing like ourselves the first 18 minutes of that game. We knew if we could bring some energy, get some stops on the defensive end, we'd be all right."
After allowing Boston to shoot 53.6 percent the first quarter, the Warriors held the Celtics to 32.3 percent in the second, 36 percent in the third and an astonishing 24 percent in the fourth.
The final three quarters obscured the first and the Warriors were able to look at themselves with a measure of pride.
"We were kind of heavy-legged and sluggish out there in the first quarter," Curry said. "We had to be mentally tough to make it an interesting game to close out the half. Then we cut it to single digits in the third quarter. At that point, we had momentum and you could sense that we were starting to figure it out."
The Celtics (23-34) did not look like much early in the season but are creating a new identity in the wake of making a flurry of roster changes. Firebrand point guard Isaiah Thomas, acquired two weeks ago, was the primary catalyst against the Warriors, finishing with a team-high 20 points and five assists in 29 minutes off the bench.
Were the Warriors concerned about losing to a team that needs to rally to finish at .500? Undoubtedly. They fell behind after two minutes and didn't take a lead until the game was inside the final four minutes.
"If we had lost, it wouldn't have been the end of the world," Kerr said. "But it's the kind of game we're going to play on the road down the stretch and in the playoffs. I was happy that we showed good poise. We had a few possessions where we tried to take some hero shots, but for the most part we did what we needed to do."
The comeback from 26 down was the largest road recovery in the NBA this season.
Curry was phenomenal, particularly on offense. He finished with game-high 37 points (14-of-22, 5-of-8 beyond the arc) and five assists.
Green was phenomenal, particularly on defense. In addition to his 14 points, he added a team-high 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.
Andre Iguodala got a key bucket off a broken play in the fourth quarter, slashing in for a layup to put the Warriors up by 3 in the final minute.
Kerr was able to use center Andrew Bogut sparingly, largely because of matchups. The big center played 19 minutes.
Curry (38 minutes), Thompson (38) and Green (44) played more than Kerr would have liked, considering the Warriors return to action Monday night at Brooklyn.
The Warriors lost the rebounding battle (60-55) for the seventh time in eight games.
The Warriors are at that point where they are trying to meet their own standard. They failed spectacularly early but spent the remainder of the evening reiterating the significance of defense to their overall success. The Celtics are nobody's contender, but they had won seven of 10 entering the game.
With the final six weeks of the season looming, they need to experience close games. Not necessarily this way, against this type of team, but any tight game is good preparation for the postseason.