August 12, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO — The NBA Finals allow for the slimmest margins for error. The opponents are too elite and the opportunities too valuable to waste in a seven-game series. For the Boston Celtics, the commission sins in Game 5 were too many to defeat a Golden State Warriors team with championship pedigree at home. The Warriors prevailed 104-94 and are now one win away from claiming their fourth title in eight years.

Except for a handful of transcendent individual performances and team outbursts, the 2022 Finals have been a tough, defensive affair. In Game 5, both teams executed their defensive game plans competently, if not perfectly. Golden State sold out and relied on their superb assist defense, while the Celtics tried to turn Warriors shooters into drivers, delivering contested shots from long range when the Warriors set up for them.

After squandering a fourth-quarter lead in Game 4 and a chance to take a 3-1 series lead, the Celtics coughed up possession 18 times – the margin of error in a Game 5 in which both teams struggled to maintain a consistent attack. The loss also spoiled something the Celtics faithful have been waiting for their superstar – a Jayson Tatum game.

The All-NBA First Team star led all scorers with 27 points in his most dominant production of the series. To further add to the misery, Stephen Curry put in one of his lesser performances, presenting another opening for the Celtics to capitalize on.

For the Warriors, Andrew Wiggins’ maturation was one of the few offensive bright spots on a night when Curry missed 15 of 22 field attempts, including a painful 0-for-9 night behind the line. 3 points. 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, especially since Kevin Durant’s departure following the 2018-19 season.

While it’s unreasonable to expect Wiggins to fill the void Durant left, it’s exciting for the Warriors to see him attack the paint and smash the boards. Wiggins finished with 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the field and no turnovers. He also played big for the Warriors, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds.

In a playoff where he took on the main defenseman assignment over Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies) and Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Wiggins can claim another stamp in his passport as one of the playoffs’ outstanding individual defensemen. . Once again he carried the bulk of the charge against Tatum, forcing the Celtics star into a series of tough tries.

One of Wiggins’ signature streaks came midway through the fourth quarter when he forced an air ball from Tatum, then took a pass from Curry down the left wing and drove to his right for a floater on the big Celtics Al Horford man who extended the Warriors lead. at 11. Wiggins then produced the dagger with just over two minutes remaining with an emphatic driving dunk over Celtics’ Derrick White.

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Andrew Wiggins goes hard to the edge and brings home a huge dunk to help put the game out of reach for the Warriors.

After spending much of the series in an emotional spiral while playing the least effective basketball of his postseason career, Draymond Green has once again become one of the most creative and impactful players in the game. shook off his offensive slump early with a few buckets in the first five minutes. From there, Green carried out his usual duties as offensive facilitator and defensive backline general.

Interested parties will likely be able to hear more elaborate analysis on Green’s podcast. But for a few hours during the live action, Green just focused on the task at hand and delivered outstanding results. The Celtics shot 1 for 10 when Green was the contending defenseman. He fould in the final minutes of the game with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in 35 minutes.

Throughout the season, the Warriors emphasized that their team was different from those who won three titles in Curry’s youth. That proved true in this one-of-a-kind tractor pull. Yet despite all the aesthetic shortcomings and ugly offensive efforts, this Warriors team still shares one thing in common with its previous incarnations: an ability to win high-stakes games any way you want.

One more win by any means Thursday night and those differences become moot.