The Boston Celtics headed into Game 4 with a lot of confidence after dismantling the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter of Game 3. After holding the Warriors to a historically-bad performance, the Celtics looked like they would be just fine in Game 4.
While they didn’t build up a big first half lead, the Celtics still held a 54-49 lead at halftime, and they even minimized the Warriors’ third quarter run. The Dubs were +43 in the third quarter over three games, but only won the third quarter of Game 4 30-24 to take a slim 79-78 lead into the final stanza.
That kind of scoreline looked to favour the Celtics, who were +40 in the fourth quarter through the first three games of the series. However, all of the areas that they were meant to excel in ended up going against them. They were out rebounded 55-42, including allowing 16 offensive rebounds for the Warriors. They were also outscored in the paint, and had the same amount of turnovers as Golden State.
Worst of all, their offense abandoned them in the final five minutes of the game. Marcus Smart made another buzzer beating three with 5:18 left in the clock to give the Celtics a 94-90 lead, but that ended up heralding the beginning of the end. After that sequence, Boston were outscored 17-3, as all of those shots that everyone had grown accustomed to seeing go in start clanging off the rim.
The trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart combined for 62 points, which was still good even if it wasn’t as good at the 77 points they scored together in Game 3. However, they did not produce in that final five minutes of the game, which allowed the Warriors to finally win a fourth quarter in this series.
Any momentum that the Celtics had built up over the first three games may now be lost. Losing home court advantage is a big one, especially considering that the Warriors are now 6-0 after a loss in the playoffs this season. Assuming the Warriors win Game 5, which is by no means a guarantee, the Celtics will be looking at trying to be the first ones to hand the Dubs a consecutive loss in a Game 7 situation in San Francisco.
It’s definitely not time for the Celtics to panic, though. This is the NBA Finals, and a 2-2 series score after four games is expected. They will definitely need to capitalize more on their strengths in Game 5, though, as their size indicates that they should not be outrebounded by such a huge margin.
It’s not like Boston played badly, either. They simply ran into Steph Curry’s greatness in this game, and Curry didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates. There’s no guarantee that Curry will score 40 or more again over the next three games, but the complexion of the series has definitely changed.
Let’s see what Ime Udoka comes up with in Game 5. All I know is that this has, so far, been the most entertaining NBA Finals since 2016. This is a real battle now.