The Golden State Warriors did it this time, not because of Stephen Curry, but in spite of him, as they beat the Boston Celtics 104-94 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Andrew Wiggins was the star man on this occasion, impressing with his scoring, defense and rebounds in a magnificent all-around spectacle. He shed 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to secure a second straight NBA Finals double-double and was also a devastating defensive rogue all night for the Boston Celtics, who are now falling behind in the best-of-seven series. for the first time behind 3 -2.
Wiggins was far from alone however, Draymond Green set the tone with some huge plays of early energy, including one where he chased a loose ball into the crowd and collided with an audience member. A huge cheer went up around the Chase Center as he checked on the lady involved. Shortly after, he had the whole crowd on their feet as he sold a huge fake to the Boston defense allowing him to go to the rim for an easy bucket.
Klay Thompson hit some huge three-pointers, including a pair midway through Boston’s third-quarter run after the Warriors blew a 16-point lead. Thompson scored 21 points in the end, including 5 of 11 from three.
Curry, for his part, failed to make a three-pointer in an NBA game for the first time since Nov. 8, 2018. He scored 16 points but was out of form. He didn’t force anything, however, and allowed his teammates to shine on a night off for him.
Basketball is a racing game and it showed in this one. Golden State started at a blistering pace in the first half and held a consistent advantage to lead by a dozen points at the break, with Boston limited to just 39 in the first half.
Then in the third quarter, which has been the Warriors’ declaration quarter in all series (they were plus-49 going into Game 5) and pretty much all season, it was Boston who responded with a huge comeback.
It took a ridiculous Bank Jordan Poole shot late in the third for the Warriors to hold a one-point lead going into the fourth. He had 14 points on the night and renaissance man Gary Payton II, who broke his elbow just a month before the start of the NBA Finals, was also a big contributor in Game 5 with 15 points and 5 rebounds.
Golden State, however, asserted their authority early in the fourth, ensuring Boston was back in double digits just three and a half minutes into the third and they didn’t look back from there.
The Celtics, meanwhile, imploded and their inexperience showed early and late in the game.
They started Monday night’s matchup with no rhythm to their offense and trying to force everything through Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. In the fourth, the temper of the younger team completely disappeared, and the team’s 18 turnovers were just too many for a Finals game on the road.
The upside-down nature of the game was exemplified by Boston shooting from beyond the arc. They started 0 for 12 of three before making their next eight straight games to give them the lead in the third quarter. Their positive stretches were fueled primarily by Tatum, who finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Smart who had 20 points. Brown, again started brightly but faded quickly – a theme of this series – and finished with 18 points and nine boards.
Tatum looked set to put in his best performance of the Finals for a third-quarter spell, but he undid that work with poor decisions and twice the 24-year-old missed both free throws after being fouled. . Overall, Boston was 21 of 31 from the line. This, coupled with turnovers, proved to be very costly for the road team.
The Warriors, meanwhile, overcame a very poor three-point shooting display in the first half (just 17%), playing with composure and at a more measured pace than needed in Game 4.
A key moment came in the third quarter when Thompson finally punched a three after the Warriors missed 14 straight points and he then found his three-point shooting rhythm.
The Warriors’ strength through depth showed, however, and there were some big plays from all players, such as Green’s bouncy pass to Payton and Poole’s huge bank shot. As for Wiggins, who was by far the Dubs’ second best player in the series, he had several highlights.
The No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft proved the star turns on a night when all of the Warriors’ stars, except the man who is usually their brightest, shine on the big stage.
Boston, on the other hand, looked intimidated and suffered a second straight loss for the first time this playoff. They will have to avoid losing again if the 18 banner is going to hang in the rafters of Boston.
The Dubs are only one win away from a fourth title in eight seasons, however. They’ll have the chance to make it a reality on Thursday night, a game you can watch live on Sky Sports.
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