If I told you Steph Curry shot 0-for-9 from 3-point land and broke a 233-game 3-pointer streak, you would probably assume that the Boston Celtics defeated the Golden State Warriors during an off night from Curry. However, the opposite occurred in Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Finals when the Warriors knocked off the Celtics 104-94 thanks to an uplifting performance from Andrew Wiggins.
The Warriors now have a 3-2 series lead over the Celtics and find themselves just one victory away from the championship.
Curry exploded for 43 points in Game 4, but scored just 16 points in Game 5. The Warriors didn’t need Curry’s offense because Klay Thompson (21 points) and Wiggins (26 points) picked up the scoring slack in the victory. Gary Payton II and Jordan Poole combined for 29 points off the bench to help seal the victory.
For the first time this postseason, the Celtics failed to bounce back after a loss in Game 5. They were previously 7-0 after a loss in the 2022 NBA playoffs.
The Celtics opened as -3 favorites in Game 6 slated for Thursday night back in Boston at TD Garden. The line moved a full point overnight, and the Celtics are -4 favorites.
The Warriors are huge favorites at -360 odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship, needing just one victory in the final two games.
The Celtics are underdogs at +290 odds to win the title, needing to win Game 6 at home before flying out to San Francisco to beat the Warriors on the road.
Warriors: Wig out
Wiggins knew the Warriors would need someone to wipe the glass. That’s been his primary directive in the postseason. He’s constantly crashing the boards on both offense and defense, averaging 9.4 rebounds per game as the overall top rebounder in the NBA Finals.
In Game 5, Wiggins unleashed one of his best clutch performances since joining the Warriors with 26 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block. He whiffed from 3-point range with an 0-for-6 clip, but was efficient inside the arc, shooting 12-for-17.
“We knew we needed his athleticism and defense and his versatility,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “We had no idea that he would make this kind of contribution. It’s a reminder that for every — almost every player in the NBA, circumstances are everything. You kind of need to find the right place, the right teammates, that kind of stuff. Wiggs has been a great fit.”
Wiggins — the former #1 pick in the NBA Draft — languished in the hinterlands of the basement dwellers during his first five seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves. His harshest critics labeled him a bust, but the Warriors got a steal when they traded D’Angelo Russell for Wiggins in 2020.
“It’s a winning culture,” said Wiggins. “The Warriors won before, and they have dominated the NBA. When I got here, they put you in position to succeed. They always bring out the best in you. They want the best for you.”
Wiggins averaged 17.2 ppg during the regular season and became Kerr’s defensive stopper in the postseason. He drew a tough assignment in the Western Conference finals, tasked with slowing down Luka Doncic. In the NBA Finals, Wiggins has been harassing Jayson Tatum.
Celtics: snapped 3Q funk, stunk elsewhere
In Game 5, the Celtics finally had a third quarter in which they outscored the Warriors. However, they struggled to find points in the other three quarters. The Celtics lost because they went cold in the fourth quarter and committed too many turnovers.
“Obviously, we’re a little discouraged after having such a good third to come out in the fourth and not execute like we needed to,” said Al Horford. “We felt like we had opportunities, kind of started playing like we were playing earlier in the game.”
The Celtics are 13-2 in the postseason when they commit 15 or fewer turnovers. They’re 0-7 in games when they have 16 or more turnovers, including in Game 5 with 18. The Warriors leveraged those 18 gaffes — including 15 turnovers from the starting five — into 22 points, including 12 fastbreak points.
“Credit to them,” said Jaylen Brown said. “They’re a really good defensive team. Disciplined and sound. They’ve forced us to do what obviously we don’t do best. We just got to continue to recognize the game, see the game and make in-game adjustments. Take care of the ball when it comes down to it. Another game with too many turnovers. It cost us.”
Tatum continued his sharpshooting from 3-point range, going 5-for-9 on the night. He finished with a team-high 27 points in the loss. Marcus Smart added 20 points while Brown scored 18. They combined for 3-for-11 from downtown, with Brown missing all five of his trey attempts. The Celtics’ bench couldn’t buy an outside shot. Grant Williams, Derrick White, and Payton Pritchard shot a combined 0-for-7 from downtown.
Check out more coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.