Steph Curry’s signature Finals game
During the pre-game show, two-time champ and former Celtics nemesis Isiah Thomas said that for the Warriors to tie the series, they needed an all-time great performance from Curry. Steph must’ve been eavesdropping because, boy, did he deliver. He scored 43 points (7 threes) while playing 41 minutes in what was essentially a must-win game.
Curry has played 32 games in the NBA Finals in his career. He’s had some great performances before (37 and 7 threes in the pivotal Game 5 win in 2015; career-playoff high 47 in a Game 3 loss in 2019), but considering the stakes (risk of going down 3-1), the atmosphere (on the road at the raucous TD Garden), the clutch factor (10 points in last four minutes) and the result (series tied 2-2 going back to the Chase Center), Game 4 against Boston might have been his best ever.
Wiggs & Klay
The story of the game is rightfully Steph and how he carried the team on his back. No doubt he put up a herculean effort but reducing the game to that simplistic narrative is disrespectful to his teammates who placed him in that position.
Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins didn’t shoot the ball well, with each going 7-for-17, but the most crucial sequence of the game belonged to them. Down 94-90 inside the last five minutes, Wiggins grabbed an offensive rebound (one of his career-high 16) and put it back to cut the lead to two, before Thompson hit the go-ahead three in the next possession.
That gave Curry the lead late in a close game for the first time this Finals—and Curry playing with leads late in games means night, night for opponents. Make no mistake though, if Wiggins and Thompson miss those, the result could have been much different.
Let’s be honest, the first three games of the Finals have been ho-hum. Game 1 was notable because of Boston’s furious 4th quarter comeback, but if you turned off the TV with four minutes left, you didn’t miss anything. Games 2 and 3 were blowouts for the most part. Game 4 was the first time that the last two minutes actually mattered. Obviously, Boston couldn’t make a shot in the end and Golden State ended up winning by double-digits because of free throws, but it was refreshing to see a tightly contested for almost the entire 48 minutes. I don’t really care who wins the series, but I hope we get more down to the wire games the rest of the way.
Boston’s closeout ability
The reason why I picked the Warriors to win the series is because I have serious questions about the Celtics’ ability to win close games. In all their wins since the second round, Boston has held double-digit leads at some point in the last four minutes. But they’ve been vulnerable whenever the game is close. They collapsed in Game 5 against the Bucks and almost had an epic meltdown in Game 7 against the Heat. They couldn’t pull away from the Warriors in Game 4 and they ended up with one field goal in the final five minutes.
Sure, you can probably chalk it up to inexperience or immaturity, but I think it’s a personnel problem. The Celtics just don’t have a true playmaker who can create either for himself or his teammates. They have a potent 1-2 punch in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but don’t have anyone who can get them the ball in positions where they can be effective. So what we often see is either Tatum or Brown playing hero ball or, as we witnessed in this game, not even being able to touch the ball when the defense upped the intensity in the closing minutes.
Winner of the previous game
The Warriors are now 6-0 following a loss this playoffs. The Celtics are 7-0. Both teams are great at bouncing back from losses, and if we follow the pattern, then the Celtics are positioned to win the title in Game 7. But don’t quote me on that.
Dell didn’t totally lose because his son put on a show for the ages. But the internet was not happy with him bringing his new GF to the game.
For context, Dell and his ex-wife Sonya were fixtures during Golden State’s five previous Finals appearances. But they had an acrimonious divorce last year, publicly accusing the other of infidelity.
To be fair, Sonya also showed up with her new partner. And I’ll just leave it at that.