The Golden State Warriors showed their championship pedigree in Monday’s 104-94 home win against the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
With the win, the Warriors have taken a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven. Historically, when a seven-game series is tied at 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the series over 82 per cent of the time.
While it has been all Stephen Curry for the Warriors up this point, Game 5 was a true team performance as Curry struggled.
It started on the defensive end for the Warriors, holding the Celtics to just eight points in the first nine minutes of action on the way to a 27-16 opening frame.
Andrew Wiggins had seven points in the first quarter, and backed it up with another nine in the second, clearly the Warriors’ best player in the first half as they won the second frame 24-23 to head into half-time leading 51-39.
A classic Warriors third quarter would have put the game to bed, but it was the Celtics’ turn to flip the game on its head, starting the second half on a 10-0 run.
The road team would hit six-of-eight three-pointers in the period to pull ahead 74-72 in the closing stages, before a running heave from Jordan Poole banked in off the backboard to beat the buzzer. Replays showed the ball left Poole’s fingertips with 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock, giving the Warriors a one-point lead.
Poole’s launch ignited the crowd, and they carried that momentum in the opening stages of the fourth, starting the quarter on a 10-0 run of their own to take a stranglehold on the contest.
In the biggest moments, Wiggins did not cede the floor to Curry, scoring 10 points in the last quarter, capped off with an emphatic slam dunk.
Wiggins finished with a team-high 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting, backing up his career-high 16 rebounds in Game 4 with another 13 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Averaging 34.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the first four games, Curry went ice cold from long range as the series returned to Golden State, going seven-of-22 from the field and a shocking zero-of-nine from deep for his 16 points and eight assists.
It was the first of Curry’s 133 career playoff games that he has not made a three-pointer, and breaks a streak of 233 consecutive total games without hitting one, and a streak of 38 straight playoff games with multiple makes.
Incredibly, Curry and Wiggins combined to shoot zero-of-15 from long range, but they received some crucial shooting performances from Klay Thompson (five-of-11 from three, 21 points) and Jordan Poole (three-of-six from deep, 14 points in 14 minutes).
Gary Payton II also played a big part in the win, coming off the bench to score 15 points on six-of-eight shooting, ripping away three steals and providing a game-changing presence on the defensive end of the floor.
Ultimately, the Warriors played playoff-proven, winning basketball. They finished with six combined turnovers as a team, with just four coming from the starters, and hit 86 per cent of their free throws (13-of-15).
For the Celtics, their big three of Jayson Tatum (four turnovers), Jaylen Brown (five) and Marcus Smart (four) combined for 13 of their side’s 18 total turnovers, while they shot 67 per cent from the free throw line (21-of-31).
Tatum was the visiting side’s top performer, finishing with 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting, going five-of-nine from long range, adding 10 rebounds and four assists, although he did miss four of his six free throws.
The Warriors now have a chance to close out the series – and secure their fourth championship in eight seasons – when they head to Boston for Game 6. If the Celtics are able to win Game 6, Game 7 will head back to Golden State.