The Golden State Warriors aren’t supposed to win when Steph Curry struggles this badly from the field. After scoring 43 points in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Curry slowed down in Game 5 and shot 7 of 22 from the field and 0 of 9 from three-point range for 16 points, three rebounds and eight assists. Curry broke a long-running streak as well, as up until today, he had made at least one three-pointer in 132 consecutive playoff games.
Turns out, though, that his teammates remembered his heroics and wanted to pay him back for putting them into a position to win the title. A collective effort from four other Warriors that scored 14 or more points made up for Curry’s cold night, and it couldn’t have come at a more important time.
First on the list of people that deserve credit is Andrew Wiggins, who had what may become known as the ‘Andrew Wiggins Game’. He shot 12 of 23 from the field (0 of 6 from three) and finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals while being an absolute killer in the fourth quarter. He had 16 points in the first half, scored none in the third quarter, and then had 10 in a pivotal fourth quarter, helping the Warriors pull away with the 104-94 victory.
Wiggins’ contribution can’t be downplayed during this Golden State team’s title challenge. While Curry grabbed headlines last game, Wiggins also had 17 points and 16 rebounds. For a guy who’s dealt with a reputation for failing to live up to expectations in his younger days, the Canadian has now found a way to show the world how important he can be to a true contender.
Klay Thompson was the other starter to come up big, and his shooting in the second half kept the Warriors in the game even after they lost a third quarter for the first time in this series. After the Warriors missed 14 threes in a row, Thompson hit a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter that helped stop the Celtics from going on a huge unanswered run. He finished the game with as the Warriors’ second-leading scorer with 21 points while shooting 5 of 11 from three.
Draymond Green also had a bit of a comeback, posting a more effective quintuple-single of eight points, eight rebounds, seven assists, a block and a steal and even had a monster slam in the first half. Green did foul out for the third time in five games this series, but he was a much bigger contributor this time around.
A lot of credit also goes to Gary Payton II and Jordan Poole, who combined for 29 points off the bench while only taking a combined 16 shots. Their contributions were appreciated by the crowd, especially Poole’s crazy buzzer-beating three to end the third quarter. That bucket stole momentum from the Celtics and allowed the Dubs to head into the final stanza with a 75-74 lead.
Golden State’s overall defense was better as well, especially in a game where the refs let a lot of things go. Before the game started, the Celtics were 1-6 in games with 16 or more turnovers, and they finished Game 5 with 18 miscues.
This was not an easy win for the Warriors, but they showed their character and championship pedigree. In becoming the first team to hand the Celtics consecutive losses this season, they’ve now given themselves two chances to win the title. I’m leaning toward a Game 7 happening, as I’m sure Jayson Tatum and the rest of Boston will have a response in Game 6. I certainly wouldn’t complain if we got two more hard-fought battles between these two great squads.
The trio of Curry, Thompson and Green did add another feather to their cap in Game 5 as well:
They’ve never lost a series when all starting together, and they could add to that later this week while also winning their fourth title in eight years.