Following their 104-94 victory against the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night, the Golden State Warriors are one win away from adding another championship to their dynasty. The Warriors had the poorest record in the Western Conference two seasons ago, going 15-50, and now they are on the verge of winning their fourth title since 2015.
While Stephen Curry had led the team to this moment, the Warriors gave him plenty of help in Game 5, as four other players scored in double figures for Golden State, topped by Andrew Wiggins’ 26 points. All of the Warriors’ supporting cast emphasized that helping Curry on the offensive end was crucial in Game 5, and they did exactly that to help Golden State to a double-digit victory.
Curry and the Warriors can wrap up the series in Game 6 at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday night if they win.
Wiggins led the Way
Given how much Golden State had relied on Curry’s brilliance in the first four games of the series, no one could have expected that the Warriors would win the game in which he scored just 16 points and missed his first 3-pointer in 233 games. But here we are, with the Warriors leading the Celtics 3-2 in the series, thanks to spectacular performances by their rotation players, namely Wiggins.
After leading the Warriors to victory on the glass in Game 4, Wiggins followed up with an even greater performance: 26 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, and two steals. He was the main reason Golden State won on Monday night, getting anything he wanted on offense and causing havoc on the defensive end. He truly came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 26 points to help the team go from a one-point advantage at the end of the third quarter to a 10-point lead at the end of the game.
Although Wiggins was the mouth of the snake in Game 5, he wasn’t the only one picking up the slack in the wake of Curry’s out-of-character performance. Thompson had his finest game of the series, shooting 5 of 11 from beyond the arc and was the only Warriors starter to make a 3-pointer. He appeared to be taking baby steps towards returning to the sharp shooting skills we’ve come to expect from him in the two games building up to this one, and he did exactly that, when the Warriors needed him most in Game 5.
The Bench Played Well
On Monday night, the Warriors’ bench was also a huge advantage. Jordan Poole and Gary Payton combined for 29 points as Golden State’s second unit defeated Boston 31-10. Golden State’s strong fourth-quarter effort was fueled by Poole’s big buzzer-beating 35-foot heave at the end of the third quarter. In Game 5, the Warriors relied on an all-around team effort, which was especially important given Curry’s poor performance.
Celtics made too many mistakes
Though the Warriors appeared to be the superior team for the majority of the game, the Celtics began to look like the side that had won Games 1 and 3 of this series in the third quarter. The offense was flowing freely, and the Warriors’ defense was forcing them to take low-quality shots. As a result, Boston opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run to take its first lead of the night with 6:27 remaining. With 3 seconds left in the third quarter, the Celtics appeared to have a chance to steal this victory.
This shot sucked the life out of the Celtics
Jordan Poole at the buzzer
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 14, 2022
With this shot to finish the third quarter, Poole single-handedly suffocated the Celtics. It gave Golden State a one-point lead going into the last 12 minutes of the game, and they never relinquished it.
The Celtics turned the ball over four times in the fourth quarter, shooting 26.7 percent from the floor and 25 percent from outside the arc. It’s been one of the Celtics’ nagging problems throughout the playoffs. They’ve struggled to score in the fourth quarter at times, particularly when the game is close. It happened in Game 4, when the Warriors overpowered the Celtics 15-0 in the final five minutes of the game, and it happened again Monday night.
The fourth quarter was decisive
This isn’t to suggest the game was decided in the fourth quarter; Boston battled terribly in the first half, committing nine turnovers in the opening two quarters. They did, however, claw their way back into the game in the third quarter before squandering a golden opportunity to grab a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals. I get that this team is inexperienced, but you can’t let Poole’s shot disrupt your game, especially with a championship on the line.