The Golden State Warriors are one win away from continuing their dynasty with another championship following their 104-94 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night. Just two seasons ago, the Warriors finished with the worst record in the Western Conference at 15-50 and now they are on the cusp of their fourth title since 2015.
While Stephen Curry had carried the team to this point, the Warriors provided him with plenty of help in Game 5 as four other players besides Curry — led by Andrew Wiggins and his 26 points — scored in double-figures for the Golden State. Providing Curry help on the offensive end was something that all of the Warriors’ supporting cast mentioned was essential in Game 5 and they did just that to help lead Golden State to a double-digit victory.
With the win, Curry and the Warriors can close this series out at Boston’s TD Garden on Thursday night in Game 6.
Wiggins and company lead the way
We were bound to get a bad Curry game at some point, and when it happened the attention would turn to which of the Warriors players would pick up the slack. Given how much Golden State has relied on Curry’s brilliance through the first four games of the series, no one could’ve predicted that it would win the game in which he put up just 16 points and failed to hit a 3-pointer for the first time in 233 games (more on that below). But here we are, the Warriors are up 3-2 in this series against the Celtics and that’s because of the standout performance from their role players, but especially Wiggins.
After being an absolute force on the glass in Game 4 to help the Warriors win, Wiggins followed that performance up with an even better showing: 26 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals. He was the primary reason Golden State won Monday night, getting whatever he wanted on offense and being disruptive on the other end of the floor. His really came alive in the fourth quarter where he put up 10 of his 26 points to push what was a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter to a 10-point lead by the end of the game.
While Wiggins was the head of the snake in Golden State’s attack in Game 5, he wasn’t the only player picking up the slack in the midst of Curry’s uncharacteristic game. Thompson had by far his best performance of the series, going 5 of 11 from downtown, and being the only Warriors starter to connect on a 3-pointer. In the past two games leading up to this one it looked like he was taking baby steps toward returning to the sharpshooting forward we’ve come to expect from him, and in Game 5 he delivered when the Warriors needed him most.
The bench was also a massive advantage for the Warriors on Monday night. Golden State’s second unit outscored Boston 31-10, as Jordan Poole and Gary Payton accounted for 29 of those points. Poole’s massive buzzer-beating, 35-foot heave at the end of the third quarter is what sparked Golden State’s dominant fourth-quarter performance. It was an all around team effort for the Warriors in Game 5, and it was urgently needed with Curry having an off night.
Celtics’ mistakes get the better of them
Though the Warriors looked like the superior team for most of this game, in the third quarter the Celtics began to look like the team that won Games 1 and 3 of this series. The offense was coming easy, and the defense was forcing the Warriors into low-quality looks. As a result, Boston used a 10-0 run to open the third quarter to grab its first lead of the night with 6:27 left. It appeared as though the Celtics had the ability to steal this win as they held a slim two-point lead with three seconds left in the third quarter.
But then this happened:
Poole single-handily sucked the life out of the Celtics with this shot to end the third quarter. It gave the Warriors a one-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes of the game, and Golden State never surrendered the lead.
In the fourth quarter the Celtics turned the ball over four times, shot 26.7 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep. It’s been one of the nagging issues plaging the Celtics throughout the postseason. They’ve struggled at times to generate offense in the fourth quarter, especially when the game is close. It happened in Game 4, where the Warriors outscored the Celtics 15-0 in clutch time (last five minutes of the game), and again Monday night Boston looked out of sorts.
This isn’t to say that this game was lost in the fourth quarter, because Boston struggled mightily in the first half as well, committing nine turnovers through the first two quarters. However, they got all the way back in this game in the third quarter and then completely squandered a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals. I know that this team is young, but you can’t let that shot from Poole completely derail your game, especially not with a championship on the line.
Historic Curry streak comes to an end
Entering Game 5, Curry had hit a 3-pointer in each of his 132 career playoff games. He also connected on a 3-pointer in 233 consecutive games, including both the regular season and the playoffs. You would think that Curry making a single 3-pointer would be a safe bet considering those numbers, but that streak came to an end in Game 5. Curry went 0 for 9 from long range Monday night, breaking his streak of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer and ending his perfect streak of making one in each of his postseason games. Both of those streaks were NBA records.
After coming off a performance in which he put up 43 points and 10 rebounds, Curry looked a bit gassed in Game 5. Several of his 3s were hitting off the front of the rim, suggesting his legs were exhausted from carrying the team to a win in Game 4. With the uncharacteristic performance Curry turned in for Game 5, you would think the Warriors would’ve lost. But Boston failed to take advantage of his off shooting night, and now the Warriors are one win away from a championship.