You can’t think of New England sports without mentioning Bill Simmons, so it’s a bit of a surprise to hear that the Boston Celtics superfan believes his favorite team blew their chance at winning the 2022 NBA Championship after they lost Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors to fall behind 3-2 in the series.
In all fairness, Simmons thinks the Celtics can rally and win Game 6 at Boston’s TD Garden to tie the series before the Warriors win Game 7 on their home court at San Francisco’s Chase Center. Many so-called experts also think this will be the scenario, with the Celtics winning Game 6 and the Warriors locking up the title in Game 7.
“I assume it’s Scott Foster the Extender coming to Boston,” joked Simmons about the potential referee assignment. “Has the season reached the point where we’re like ‘Please give us Scott Foster for a chance at Game 6?'”
The Celtics are -4 favorites at home for Game 6, and the total is 210 points. The underdog Warriors are +150 on the moneyline, while the Celtics are -170. The Warriors are -360 odds to win the title, while the Celtics are the +270 dogs and need to win back-to-back elimination games to pull off the comeback.
Simmons: Boston pity party
On the latest episode of his podcast, Simmons invited one of his long-time friends, Kevin Hench, to join him for a discussion on the aftermath of Game 5. The 104-94 loss marked the first time the Celtics lost back-to-back games in the postseason.
“I think I just saw the Celtics throw away the 2022 title,” said Simmons, kicking off the show.
After getting outplayed in the third quarter in the first four games, the Celtics played great after coming out of the locker room at halftime. Then, the Warriors dominated the fourth quarter to secure the win. The Celtics scored just 20 points and continued to turn the ball over while Jaysun Tatum once again went cold in crunch time.
Hench and Simmons agreed that Andrew Wiggins was the huge difference in the back-to-back losses, along with the lackluster performance from the Celtics’ bench.
Curry had an off night in Game 5, shooting 0-for-9 from 3-point land, but Wiggins and the rest of the team provided the offense. Wiggins scored a team-high 26 points and added 13 rebounds in the 10-point victory. In Game 4, Wiggins scored 17 points and hauled down 16 rebounds in that 10-point victory to tie the series at 2-2.
In Game 4, the main rotation guys in the second unit shot 5-for-16. It was even worse in Game 5 when they shot 1-for-8 and were all gun shy.
“I dunno what happened to the role guys,” said Simmons. “They went sideways.”
Tangled up in Tatum’s blues
Perhaps Tatum should just shoot 3-pointers, since he’s knocking those down with a high proficiency (47.5%). He has to stop trying to constantly draw fouls in the lane when the officials call fewer whistles in the postseason and allow the Warriors to play a more physical game.
Tatum can’t buy a shot inside the paint, and he’s shooting just 30.6% from inside the arc.
“Tatum cannot finish around the rim, and it is maddening,” said Hench. “How did he miss layups by that much?”
“The Warriors don’t have a shot-blocker down there,” said Simmons. “They have no rim protector. How does he miss those?”
There’s a theory floating around that Tatum is banged up with a shoulder or neck injury, which initially occurred when he suffered a stinger against the Miami Heat in the previous round.
Hoops fans in New England have been waiting for Tatum to explode for a career-defining performance in the NBA Finals, similar to Curry’s 43-point eruption in Game 4. Tatum averages 23.2 ppg in the NBA Finals and scored 23-plus in four-straight games since his ugly 12-point performance in Game 1 when he shot 3-for-17 from the field. But, 28 points has been his highest output against the Warriors.
Tatum had two 30-point games when Boston swept the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, including 39 points in Game 3. In the second round, he dropped 46 points in a must-win elimination game on the road in Milwaukee against the Bucks in Game 6. In the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat’s top-notch defensive, Tatum posted two 30-point games. However, he has yet to crack 30 in the NBA Finals.
Check out more coverage of the 2022 NBA playoffs.