By Cameron Burford, Whatsgoodinsports.com
After splitting the first four games by winning on each other’s home court of these NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors played their pivotal game five in San Francisco. Entering this year, teams that have won Game 5 of a 2-2 NBA Finals have gone on to win the series 73.3% of the time (22-8). The Warriors come into this game five, having wrestled control of this series from the Celtics, on a career-defining game by Stephen Curry, who secured the series-tying win for the Warriors. It felt then like it looks now, those Celtics missed an opportunity to extend their series lead to 3-1 in game four on their home court while simultaneously stepping on the throat of the Warriors.
The Celtics have shown NBA fans their brilliance, just as well as their inexperience in this series. They pulled out game three of this series with a big performance from their trio of Brown, Tatum, and Smart, who became the first trio of teammates to each have at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in an NBA Finals game since the 1984 Los Angeles Lakers. Yet they would blow an opportunity to grab a stranglehold on the NBA Championship by taking a 3-1 lead over the veteran-laden Warriors in game four.
Not only would this young Celtics team get one game closer to winning a championship in game five, but they would also have an opportunity to improve upon their impressive 7-0 record after a loss in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The Celtics’ inexperience propped up again as they turned the ball over 16 times for the second consecutive game. Though the turnover margin was minimal for the Warriors, they outscored the Celtics 22-9 in points off turnovers.
The inconsistency of the Celtics also showed up again as they missed their first 12 three-point attempts, which was the most missed threes to start an NBA Finals game. They then made eight straight three-pointers during Game 5, which happened to be the most consecutive threes made in an NBA Finals game. Their first three-pointer of the game set a new record for a single postseason record of 307 three. Coincidentally the previous record was 306 by the Warriors, who established that record in 2016.
Oddly enough, Stephen Curry, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made, did not make a three-pointer in game five, ending his NBA-record streak of 132 consecutive playoff games with at least one three-pointer. It was weird to see Curry shoot 0-9 from deep in game five, which is the first playoff game of his career without at least one three-pointer. Before game five, Stephen Curry made at least one three-pointer in 233 consecutive games, the regular season and playoffs included.
Curry’s poor shooting night was a major contributor to the Warriors’ 22.5% shooting from behind the three-point arc. They also outdo the Celtics by missing 14 straight three-point shots. With Curry having an off night, their Game 5 win would be a complete team effort. Coming off the bench, Gary Payton II tied his career playoff-high with 15 points and set his career playoff-high with three steals.
The ultimate team player Draymond Green recorded six assists before fouling out in game 5 and 211 assists in the NBA Finals. He now passes Scottie Pippen (207) for eighth place and Michael Jordan (209) for seventh place in the career NBA Finals assists list.
For the second of five games, Klay Thompson has scored over 20 points. In this game, Thompson knocked down five three-pointers to give him 102 career threes in the NBA Finals, passing LeBron James 101 for second place on the all-time list. Thompson (104) now only trails his teammate and career leader Stephen Curry who has hit 146 three-point shots. Golden State’s Gary Payton II tied his career playoff-high with 15 points and set his career playoff-high with three steals.
The Celtics broke the trend of surrendering the third quarter to the Warriors by outscoring them 35-24 in game five. Tatum, Brown, and Smart each scored nine points in that third quarter, yet the Warriors reserve Jordan Poole made great use of the 1:54 minutes he played in that quarter. Though he only scored three points in the quarter, it was a momentum-changing three-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter.
“The response to Boston’s (3rd quarter) run, to me, was the key to the game,” Kerr said about their run in response to the Celtics’ third quarter. “I think the way we responded to their third-quarter run was huge, Jordan hitting that shot right before the clock expired was a huge momentum boost for us,” Draymond Green said in support of Kerr’s previous comments of the way they gained control of the game in the fourth quarter.
The much-maligned and former number one draft pick Andrew Wiggins led the Warriors in points with 26 points and rebounds with 13, for the first time all season. This was also his second straight game that he recorded double-digit rebounds.
“We knew we needed his athleticism, his defense, and his versatility. We had no idea that he would make this kind of contribution.” Kerr said of Wiggins’ impact on the team in the playoffs in his post-game press conference.
“That’s what makes all this work. We all support each other; we want to see each do good and succeed. That’s why we’re here,” Wiggins says about the environment in the Warriors locker room. “There’s a lot of great people here; They challenge you; they hold you accountable,” Wiggins said about why this team has been a good fit for him.
“Bottom line is he’s just having fun playing basketball,” Curry said summarizing Wiggins’ play during the finals. “That’s the biggest thing!”
This game was critical to winning this series because teams that have won Game 5 of a 2-2 NBA Finals have gone on to win the series 73.3% of the time. Furthermore, teams that have led the NBA Finals 3-2 have gone on to win the series 81.3% of the time. Meaning the Golden State Warriors are in a prime position to win their fourth NBA Championship since the 2014-2015 season.
Let your voice be heard by sharing your thoughts on how you think the rest of this series will play out. Do you expect the Celtics to be able to defend their home court and push this series to a game seven? Or do you expect the Warriors to close this series out on the Celtics home court.? Let me know your thoughts by reaching out to me on Twitter @_voiceofthefans or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also encourage you to forward any suggestions on what angles about this new version of this NBA Finals you want to read about this season.