The odds were heavily stacked against the Golden State Warriors heading into Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals at the TD Garden versus a hungry Boston Celtics team.
Boston was coming off an impressive Game 3 victory where Golden State’s core showed their age. There were also concerns about the condition of Stephen Curry’s ankle following an injury late in the prior contest.
Curry immediately put those doubts to rest with a 12-point first quarter and put the Warriors on his back as they tied up the series at 2-2 with a 107-97 win. The 34-year-old guard had a masterful performance, scoring 43 points on 14-of-26 shooting along with 10 rebounds, and four assists on a night when his teammates could provide him with support in short bursts at best.
Andrew Wiggins looked like their second best player all evening as his athleticism was key on both ends of the floor for a Golden State team that is rather bereft of it. Wiggins finished with 17 points, a career-high 16 rebounds, two assists, and one steal.
Meanwhile, Klay Thompson added 18 points, two rebounds, an assist, a steal, and two blocks. The 32-year-old guard scored eight crucial points early in the fourth quarter that helped the Warriors keep up with the Celtics as they tried to pull away with another late push.
Once again, the third quarter proved to be a pivotal one for Golden State despite not pulling off one of their trademark one-sided runs. They swung a five-point halftime deficit into a one-point lead entering the final period on the strength of a 14-point quarter from Curry.
The rest of the Warriors then put up a valiant effort at the onset of the fourth quarter that allowed head coach Steve Kerr to buy Curry time on the bench. When their star guard checked back in with slightly over nine minutes left in the game, they only trailed Boston by two, 86-84, and were still well-within striking distance.
After going back-and-forth for the next few possessions, a three-pointer from Marcus Smart put the Celtics up by four, 94-90, with 5:18 left in the match. It seemed like Boston was destined to take over the game in front of their raucous home crowd, albeit that proved to be the high point of the evening for them.
Golden State responded with a 7-0 run–a Wiggins lay-up, a triple from Thompson, and a floater by Curry–that put them in control, 97-94, with less than four minutes to play. That run turned out to be the decisive one of the night and another three from Curry that broke a two-minute scoreless spell from both teams ultimately put the game away.
Aside from the brilliance of the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Curry, the Warriors’ adjustments and courage to make difficult decisions also played a key role in their gritty victory. While the decision to start Otto Porter Jr. in place of Kevon Looney had a rather minimal effect, Kerr’s willingness to keep veteran Draymond Green on the bench late in the final quarter proved to be a winning decision.
With the 32-year-old forward no longer as dynamic as he once was, Kerr opted for reserve guard Jordan Poole instead on multiple possessions and selectively deployed Green for defensive purposes. He did, however, have a nifty assist to Kevon Looney with a minute left in the game that brought their lead back up to five and helped stave off the Celtics’ desperation rally.
Green finished with just two points on one-of-seven shooting although he did contribute in other ways, unlike in their previous loss, as he put together nine rebounds, eight assists, and four steals.
Looney also played a vital role in their winning effort as he was seemingly energized by his move to the bench. He had a team-high +/- of +21 and had six points, 11 rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block to go with his fundamentally sound team defense that is perennially underrated.
With the win, Golden State has now reclaimed home court advantage and will head back to the Chase Center for Game 5 with momentum on their side. This has been an excellent series of adjustments that has seen the two sides alternate wins over the first four games.
The narrative around the Warriors is that they are too old and unathletic to keep up with this physically imposing Boston team, yet they continue to find ways to win. Curry is putting on a show for the ages and he looks primed to take his first-ever NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award if they do manage to win their fourth title as a group this year.
The series is now tied at 2-2 and these next few games promise to be even more thrilling as the stakes continue to grow higher. Golden State has the experience and it has been a clear advantage for them so far. It remains to be seen if this is enough of an edge to win them the title, but if this Game 4 is any indication, the one sure thing is that these Warriors will go down swinging.