With 3-2 and a victory for his fourth ring in eight years. This is how Stephen Curry’s eternal Golden State Warriors are, who showed on Monday that they know how to win without a stratospheric performance from their star and who put the Boston Celtics on the ropes in the NBA Finals (104-94).
On Thursday, a sixth game will be played in Boston (USA) that will be definitive if the Warriors win. If a seventh game were needed, it would be played on Sunday in San Francisco (USA).
After his historic display in the fourth game with 43 points, Curry did not have his day (16 points, with 7 of 22 shooting, and 8 assists), so much so that it was his first game since November 2018 in which he did not score a single triple (0 of 9). However, Golden State boasted a wardrobe background.
Andrew Wiggins was superb in the two baskets (26 points and 13 rebounds), Klay Thompson vindicated himself on the day that marked the third anniversary of his terrible knee injury (21 points with 5 triples) and Draymond Green was the commander of the defense (8 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists).
NBA history smiles at those of Steve Kerr: in series that are 2-2 after four games, the team that wins in the fifth ends up winning the tie 82% of the time.
In a vibrant and streaky duel for both teams, Boston sank with turnovers (18 vs. 7 for the Warriors), their poor free throw percentage (21 of 31) and their dismal fourth quarter (29-20). ). Jayson Tatum (27 points and 10 rebounds) was the best of the Celtics in which the Dominican Al Horford contributed 9 points and 9 rebounds. The Warriors roared from the opening jump.
With a fiery display of energy, Golden State took control of the game by pressing down the passing lanes, applying assists and overwhelming the Celtics on every attack. Curry asked for noise and more noise from his fans when only three minutes had been played, but the great protagonist was Green.
Criticized in these Finals for his poor offensive performance, Green jumped to the front row in search of a divided ball and, with a dunk after a feint, culminated that sweeping start of Golden State (12-4 with 7:28 on the clock). On the other side, the paralysis of the Celtics was worrying. With a painful 8 of 23 shots (0 of 5 in triples), Boston lost 16 points in the first quarter, but Tatum made up for it somewhat in the end with 6 points in a row (27-16).
The Warriors’ second unit faltered and the Celtics took advantage of it to get within 6, but when the starters returned, Golden State held a comfortable lead of around ten points.
With a discreet Curry until the last minutes of the second quarter (perhaps the only positive note for Boston), the unexpected leader of the Warriors was Wiggins, very fine in the middle distance and who came into the break with 16 points and 7 rebounds.
Instead, the Celtics went to the locker room with their heads down after 9 turnovers and 3 of 15 3-pointers in a poor first half (51-39). In this NBA of volatile scoreboards, Bombardments of triples and ephemeral differences, a blink is enough for your advantage to be diluted like a sugar cube.
That happened to the Warriors, who fell flat on their faces at the restart with a 0-10 and who saw revive Tatum with two consecutive triples (51-49 with 10:15 left). The short circuit of the Warriors was total before the resounding defensive improvement of the Celtics.
With renewed faith in the perimeter, Boston capped off its impressive comeback with a 3-pointer from Smart and another from Horford that sealed a magnificent 4-19 run from the break (55-58 with 6:27 on the clock). The flood of the Celtics threatened to drown the Warriors.
But when things looked worst, two three-pointers by Thompson and another pair by Poole (one of them a trademark: spectacular and at the buzzer) allowed Steve Kerr’s men to take a breather after a volcanic third quarter that had absolutely everything ( 75-74).
Boston went 6-for-9 from 3-point range with 27 points between Tatum, Smart and Brown, but their 24-35 record was somewhat marred by 16 points between Thompson and Poole. It seemed that the game was heading for a very tight end, but it was not.
As if that final triple by Poole had left poison embedded in his bloodthe Celtics conceded an early 7-0 run against an intense and ferocious Warriors who were reminiscent of their start of the game.
Boston took almost four minutes to make its first basket and began to dig its own grave between frustration (Smart was hit with a technical), free throw misses and the fragility of its defense.
Calmly, Wiggins and Thompson took advantage of the wind in their favor and the Warriors were placed one step away from the title.