August 20, 2022

Warriors pick perfect time to introduce Steph in final originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – Steph Curry in the first four games of the NBA Finals, while facing the best defense in basketball, averaged 34.3 points while shooting 50% of his shots from the field and 49% of his 3 points on almost 13 attempts per game.

Even the greatest shooter of all time can spend an evening here and there. He deserved it too, especially after keeping the Warriors’ season alive with his 43-point performance in Game 4. Curry finally turned the heat down and went cold on Monday night at Chase Center, scoring just 16 points on 7 for 22 in total. .

His streak of making at least one 3-pointer in 233 consecutive games between the regular season and the playoffs finally came to an end after failing to connect on nine tries from long range.

“I think Steph was probably due for a game like this,” Steve Kerr told reporters Monday night. “He shoots the ball so well that at some point he was going to have a tough night. But we have a lot of talent and a lot of depth that can make up for that, and the guys did a good job tonight.”

They certainly did, which, along with Andrew Wiggins’ latest sensational performance, should be the story of the night. Curry has carried the Warriors up to this point. It was time for his teammates to pick him up, which they had been promising to do for the past few days, and they answered the call.

Steph’s 16 points is his series-low total and his fewest points in a Finals game since scoring 11 in Game 3 of the 2018 Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Just like four years ago, the Warriors emerged victorious, 107-97, despite a declining performance from their brightest superstar.

Now they are just one win away from claiming their fourth title in the last eight seasons and have proven they can come out on top when Curry’s shot rings out.

“The fact that everyone has come together — Wiggs, [Jordan Poole], [Klay Thompson] hitting big shots,” Curry said. “[Draymond Green] found his life and his spirit and how he impacts the game. We could handle going 9 for 40 (on 3 points) as a team and me 0 for 9, and come away with a win.

“Obviously the track record says I’m shooting the ball better the next game. I’m looking forward to bouncing back.”

As Curry looked to knock his shot down, Wiggins took the reins, continuing to live up to his last moniker – going from Two-Way Wiggs to Playoff Wiggs. The former No. 1 overall pick played game-winning basketball throughout the playoffs. Over the past two games, he’s taken his overall game to new heights.

Scoring a team-high 26 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds, the quiet, soft-spoken small forward might as well have lost in half court. It was his stage and he saved his best for his closing act.

Wiggins had 16 points in the first half, along with seven rebounds. He was then held scoreless in the third quarter and grabbed just one rebound as the Warriors were outscored by 11 points. But in the fourth quarter, he scored 10 points, went 5-for-6 from the field, grabbed five rebounds and was a plus-15.

He’s a winner, something Wiggins always was when the playoffs started. He’s recorded back-to-back double-doubles and has as many as six in the playoffs.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of for sure,” Wiggins said when asked if he’d ever considered a night like his performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. “Being in the league, and that’s the ultimate step. It doesn’t get bigger than that.

“I was aggressive. It was a good game.”

From the start, it was clear that Wiggins brought the energy and strength needed for a Warriors win. He was not alone. Green was there with him to set the tone. Draymond combined to score four points in the previous two games. He scored as many in the first 4:30 on Monday evening.

Before committing a foul three minutes from the end of the game, Green scored eight points to go with eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal. He’s the kind of player the Warriors need him to be, and the box score doesn’t do him justice.

The three-time champion looked exactly like that, and now he’s set to bring that same kind of game back to Boston.

“I felt more like myself, aggressive on both sides of the ball, but I felt a bit more like myself in Game 4 as well, after an atrocious Game 3,” Green said.

“But you just have to keep building. Tonight is a great start, and I’m looking forward to going into Game 6 with the same energy and effort.”

Thompson trailed only Wiggins with 21 points and was effective 7-for-14 from the field and 5-for-11 from 3-point range. He averaged 13.0 points and shot 26.7 percent from downtown in the first two games of the Finals. Over the past three, he’s now averaging 21.3 points and shooting 42.4 percent on 3-point attempts.

At halftime, Thompson and Poole were 3 for 7 for eight points. In the second half, they upped their aggression and went 8 for 14, combining to score 27 points.

Poole scored 14 points in 14 minutes off the bench. He and Gary Payton II scored 29 points in reserve. The Celtics bench as a whole scored nine points.

RELATED: Steph vows to ‘keep shooting’ after freak fifth game

The Warriors won Steph Curry’s “Bad Night,” one where he was a plus-15 and led both teams with eight assists. He can taste another ring. Draymond can’t wait to see what Steph has in store Thursday night at TD Garden.

“Now it’s good for us,” Green said. “He was 0-9 out of three. He’s going to be livid heading into Game 6, and that’s exactly what we need.”

And that kind of victory is exactly what the Warriors needed, on their way to becoming basketball’s best again.