Andrew Wiggins And Stout Defense Led The Warriors To A Game 5 Victory Over The Celtics

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After Stephen Curry utterly erupted in Game 4, the Golden State Warriors were in a favorable position as Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Finals arrived on Monday evening in San Francisco. Though the Warriors and Boston Celtics were knotted at 2-2, Golden State entered with the benefit of home-court advantage and with the experience advantage against the Eastern Conference champion Celtics. Game 5 was not a hiccup-less performance from the Warriors, but Golden State built an early lead, withstood a notable challenge, and used an impressive fourth quarter to secure a 104-94 victory and a 3-2 series edge.

The evening began in friendly fashion for the Warriors, with Golden State making seven of its first ten shots. That barrage staked the Warriors to an immediate 14-4 lead, and Draymond Green made a notable impact on both ends of the floor at the outset.

Golden State led by as many as 16 points in the opening period, with Boston failing to reach double figures in scoring for almost ten full minutes. The Celtics opened 4-of-17 from the field, including 4-of-14 inside the arc after 45.7 percent two-point shooting in the first four games of the NBA Finals. In timely fashion, however, Jayson Tatum came alive with a trio of buckets to bring the Celtics back in touch.

The Warriors held a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter, even with Curry scoring only four points. Golden State held a massive edge in the possession battle, committing six fewer turnovers than Boston. Early in the second quarter, the Warriors pushed their lead back to 14 points, but that set up the best stretch of the first half from the Celtics.

Boston scored eight straight points, climbing within a six-point margin, and the Celtics made it a point to attack defensive pressure points in Jordan Poole and Nemanja Bjelica.

For much of the first half, poor three-point shooting was the overarching story. The two teams combined to miss 24 of the first 27 three-pointers, and Boston missed its first 12 long-range attempts. Golden State ended the first half strong, though, and held a 12-point lead at the halftime break behind a substantial first half from Andrew Wiggins.

Coming out of the break, the Warriors likely had tremendous confidence in their third-quarter baseline. Golden State entered the evening with a +49 point differential in the third quarter over the first four games of the series, including a +35 mark in the first two games in San Francisco. This time, however, the Celtics zoomed at the start of the second half.

Boston scored the first ten points of the third quarter, chipping away in a hurry.

After missing the first 12 three-point attempts of the evening, the Celtics converted eight three-pointers in a row. That onslaught sent the visitors from a double-digit deficit to a third quarter lead at 58-55.

Boston led by as many as five points and, at that point in the third, Golden State was just 3-of-25 from three-point range with 14 straight misses. The Warriors finally settled in from there, setting up a very fun flurry of basketball to end the third quarter. Both sides displayed impressive shotmaking, and Jordan Poole connected on a 35-foot heave at the buzzer to give Golden State a one-point lead with 12 minutes remaining.

Riding the wave, the Warriors threw a haymaker to begin the fourth quarter. Golden State scored the first ten points of the closing period, attempting to reclaim the lost momentum from the opening half.

The Warriors were effective on offense, but Boston’s offense also faltered at the top of the fourth quarter. The Celtics scored only five points in more than eight and a half minutes, allowing Golden State to slowly build the margin back to double figures. While the result was not yet academic, a sequence involving a Jayson Tatum airball and an exclamation point dunk from Wiggins sealed the victory for the Warriors.

From a team standpoint, defense carried the day for the Warriors in Game 5. Boston’s mid-game three-point flurry threatened to flip the outcome, but the Celtics scored less than a point per possession for the majority of the evening, with the Warriors continuing to provide high-end resistance at the rim. Boston committed 18 turnovers with only 18 assists in the game, and Golden State’s cohesion was impressive for most of the night.

Offensively, the Warriors were far from perfect, especially when taking into account a poor shooting night (0-of-9 from three) from Curry, his first ever playoff game without a made three-pointer. However, Wiggins was brilliant with 26 points and 13 rebounds, and Golden State took care of the ball. The Warriors committed only seven turnovers and generated 25 assists, overcoming a 9-of-40 mark from three-point range to grab a double-digit win.

Golden State will now have a chance to close out the series on Thursday at TD Garden, though Boston clearly possesses the upside to secure a Game 6 home win and send the series back to San Francisco. However, the Warriors are now in more control than they have been at any point in the series, and the Celtics must now scale a steep mountain to keep Golden State from another championship.


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