SAN FRANCISCO — The NBA Finals allow for the slimmest margins of error. Opponents are too elite and opportunities too precious to squander in a seven-game series. For the Boston Celtics, sins of commission in Game 5 were too quite a few to beat a Golden State Warriors team with a championship pedigree on its home floor. The Warriors prevailed 104-94 and now stand one win away from capturing their fourth title in eight years.
Aside from a handful of transcendent individual performances and team outbursts, the 2022 Finals have been a rugged, defensive affair. In Game 5, each teams executed their defensive game plans proficiently, if not perfectly. Golden State sold out and relied on its superb help defense, while the Celtics tried to show the Warriors’ shooters into drivers, offering contested shots from long distance when the Warriors settled for them.
Having blown a fourth-quarter lead in Game 4 and a likelihood to assert a 3-1 series lead, the Celtics coughed up possession 18 times — the margin for error in a Game 5 by which each teams struggled to take care of consistent offense. The loss also wasted something the Celtics faithful have been pining for from their superstar — a Jayson Tatum game.
The primary-team All-NBA standout led all scorers with 27 points in his most dominant output of the series. To further add to the misery, Stephen Curry turned in one in all his lesser performances, presenting one other opening for the Celtics to capitalize.
For the Warriors, the maturation of Andrew Wiggins was one in all the few offensive vibrant spots on an evening when Curry missed 15 of his 22 attempts from the sphere, including a painful 0-for-9 night from behind the 3-point line. Wiggins continues to be a revelation for Golden State. For all the Warriors’ appealing offensive style, they feature limited individual shot creation off the dribble, particularly for the reason that departure of Kevin Durant after the 2018-19 season.
While it’s unreasonable to expect Wiggins to fill the vacuum left by Durant, it’s thrilling for the Warriors to observe him attack the paint and crash the boards. Wiggins finished with 26 points on 12-for-23 shooting from the sphere and 0 turnovers. He also played big for the Warriors, securing a game-high 13 rebounds.
In a postseason when he has taken on the task of primary defender on Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies) and Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Wiggins can claim one other stamp on his passport as one in all the postseason’s outstanding individual defenders. Once more, he carried the majority of the load against Tatum, forcing the Celtics’ star right into a series of adverse attempts.
One in all Wiggins’ signature sequences got here midway through the fourth quarter when he forced an air ball from Tatum then took a pass from Curry on the left wing and drove to his right for a floater over Celtics big man Al Horford that prolonged the Warriors’ result in 11. Wiggins then produced the dagger with just over two minutes remaining with an emphatic driving dunk over the Celtics’ Derrick White.
Andrew Wiggins goes hard to the rim and flushes home an enormous dunk to assist put the sport out of reach for the Warriors.
Having spent much of the series in an emotional spiral while playing a few of the least effective basketball of his postseason profession, Draymond Green returned to form as one in all the sport’s most impactful, creative players. He shook off his offensive doldrums early with a few buckets in the primary five minutes. From there, Green carried out his usual functions as offensive facilitator and back-line general on defense.
Interested parties will likely find a way to listen to more elaborate evaluation on Green’s podcast. But for just a few hours during live motion, Green focused solely on the duty at hand and delivered sterling results. The Celtics shot 1-for-10 when Green was the contesting defender. He fouled out in the sport’s closing minutes with 8 points, 8 rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes.
All season long, the Warriors have emphasized that their team is different from those who won three titles during Curry’s youthful prime. That has proved true on this tractor pull of a series. Yet for all the aesthetic shortcomings and ugly offensive efforts, this Warriors squad still shares one commonality with its previous incarnations: a capability to win high-stakes games any which way.
Yet one more win in whatever fashion on Thursday night and people differences turn into irrelevant.