Another rough fourth quarter for the Celtics helped the Golden State Warriors move just one win from their fourth NBA Championship in the last eight years and their seventh title overall. (Which, by the way, will move Golden State into sole possession of third on the all-time list ahead of the Chicago Bulls).
Warriors 104, Celtics 94
Series: GSW leads 3-2
The Celtics stumbled to the finish line last night in a crucial Game 5 in Golden State, scoring just 20 points on 26.7 percent shooting in the fourth quarter as the Warriors won their second straight game to take a 3-2 lead over Boston in the NBA Finals. Less than a week ago, this series seemed to be heading toward the Celtics winning their 18th ring, but the script has been flipped, and Boston is now on the brink of losing this series.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were held to five points apiece in the fourth. Tatum shot 1-of-5 from the floor and Brown shot 1-of-4. As a unit, the Celtics shot 25 percent from deep in the fourth quarter while the Warriors shot 50 percent as a team in the final frame en route to the win.
Troublesome fourth quarters have been a troubling trend for the Celtics in this series. In Boston’s Games 1 and 3 victories, the Celtics outscored the Warriors a combined 63-27 in those two fourth quarters. In Games 2, 4, and 5, the Dubs have outscored the Warriors by 85-58 in those three fourth quarters.
Stephen Curry was the story in the Warriors’ Game 4 victory on Friday night, but tonight it was Andrew Wiggins who stole the show. Wiggins finished with 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting to go with 13 rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 43 minutes.
More importantly, Wiggins did the bulk of his scoring when it mattered most last night. Wiggins scored a team-high 10 points in the fourth quarter on 5-of-6 shooting while grabbing five boards and logging five assists in closeout time for Golden State. Wiggins also paced the Warriors with 16 first-half points when guys like Curry, Klay, and Jordan Poole were still getting going.
Gary Payton II called the performances of guys like Andrew Wiggins the kind of strength in numbers that makes the Warriors the championship-caliber team they are right now.
“Just the strength in numbers,” Payton said. “We have a bunch of guys that are ready at all times. And you know when their number is called, they come in and give us a good push, good energy, good vibe on the court. Could be for 30 seconds, two minutes. You know, whoever comes in, steps up. They come in and do their job and keep the same focus that we had.”
Curry struggled for much of the night shooting just 31.8 percent from the floor and a dismal 0-for-9 from three-point land and finished the game with 16 points, something that Klay Thompson thinks will play into the Warriors’ favor when they attempt to close this series out in Game 6 on Thursday night.
“I just know he’ll respond,” Thompson said of Curry. “He’s one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever been around. And he’s a perfectionist, like myself. I know he’ll be thinking about the shots he missed. And that’s a good thing, because Thursday, hopefully, most of the time, he regresses to the mean. And it’s scary when he does.”
As far as Curry is concerned, he’s just happy that the Warriors are just one win away from finishing the ultimate job.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier after a 0-for-whatever type of night, just knowing the context of the game, the other ways you tried to impact the game, and the fact that you know, you had four guys step up in meaningful ways to help us win offensively,” Curry said. “So all that stuff matters. Yeah, there’s a fire burning, and I want to make shots, but the rest of it is about how we win the game, and we did that.”
The Celtics have to win out if they want to win this series; the Warriors have two shots at notching that fourth and decisive victory in the series, with their first coming on Thursday night in Boston.
Here are the highlights from last night’s game courtesy of NBA.com’s YouTube channel: