BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole stepped up big when it mattered most, leading Golden State back from a third quarter deficit to move within a game of the NBA championship with a 104-94 win over the Boston Celtics Monday night at Chase Center.
The Warriors led from the opening tip, taking an early 16 point lead and maintaining a 51-39 advantage at halftime before Boston rallied to go up by five with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter. But Golden State stormed back, retaking the lead on a 38-foot buzzer beating three pointer by Poole to put them back up by a score of 75-74 heading into the final quarter. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
The win gives the Warriors a 3–2 NBA Finals lead in the series and moved within a game of their fourth title in the past eight years. It was the first time the Celtics have lost back-to-back games during this postseason, snapping a seven-game winning streak after a loss which was tied for the longest in NBA history.
Wiggins had another big game, leading the Warriors in both points and rebounds. Playing in his first Finals the former #1 pick in the 2014 draft connected for 26 points on 12-23 shooting from the field to go along with a game high 13 rebounds. His power slam down the middle of the lane with just over two minutes remaining gave the Warriors a 99-84 lead and sealed Boston’s fate.
“Coming into this year, he (Wiggins) was an All-Star starter for a reason,” Draymond Green said. “The bigger the challenge has been that we’ve thrown in front of him, the bigger he’s responded. You want a guy like that. When the stage gets big, they respond and play their best basketball, and that’s what he’s been doing.”
“He’s definitely confident. He’s definitely enjoying the playoffs. He enjoys the competition,” said Golden State head coach Steve Kerr. “He’s found such a crucial role on the team. He knows how much we need him. It’s a reminder for almost every player in the NBA. Circumstances are everything. You kind of have to find the right team.”
Klay Thompson also continued to show his improved shooting touch with 21 points (7-14) including five threes, helping to offset a rare off night by Steph Curry. Coming off a monster 43-point effort in Game 4 in Boston three days ago, Curry was held to just 16 points on 7-22 shooting although he did have a game high eight assists. Draymond Green overcame his struggles in Boston in spite of fouling out late in the game, scoring eight points early in the first half and finishing with eight rebounds and six assists.
Gary Payton II made a big impact off the bench with 15 points in addition to disrupting the Celtics offensive flow with his stifling work on defense. Poole added 14 including three three-pointers.
Golden State’s ability to hold onto the ball was also a key to their victory. The Warriors committed a postseason low seven turnovers while Boiston gave the ball away 18 times.
The Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum (10-20) with 27 points and 10 rebounds while Marcus Smart added 20. Jaylen Brown was 2 for 11 from the field to start the game but still finished with 18 points (5-18) and nine boards.
With a chance to wrap up their fourth championship since 2015 and the sixth in franchise history, Golden State will return to Boston for a 6PM tipoff of Game 6 on Thursday night.
The win was the 20th in the NBA Finals for the Warriors trio of Curry, Thompson and Green, enabling them to pass Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker of the Spurs for the second most in the last 50 years. The Los Angeles Lakers trio of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper hold the record with 22.
Curry (0-9) didn’t make a three-pointer, ending his NBA-record streak of 132 consecutive playoff games with at least one. It’s the first playoff game of his career he’s been shut out from beyond the arc. Prior to tonight, Curry had made at least one three-pointer in 233 consecutive games between the regular season and playoffs combined. His last game without a three-pointer had been Nov. 8, 2018 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Thompson’s third three-pointer of Game 5 gave him 102 career threes in the Finals, passing LeBron James for second place on the all-time list. Thompson (104) now trails only career leader Curry’s total of 146. Monday marked exactly three years since Thompson tore the ACL in his left knee and had surgery before later tearing his right Achilles tendon while working back from the first injury, forcing him to miss more than 2 1/2 years.
Payton II tied his career playoff high with 15 points and set his career playoff high with three steals.
The Celtics first three-pointer of the game gave them 307 threes during the 2022 NBA Playoffs, a new record for a single postseason. The previous record was 306 by the Warriors in 2016. Boston made eight straight three-pointers during Game 5, the most consecutive threes made in an NBA Finals game.
The Warriors improved to 11-1 at Chase Center during the postseason. Their only loss was to Boston in Game 1 of the Finals. The victory also improved the franchise’s All-Time record to 8-2 in Game 5’s of the NBA Finals.
Golden State was only 9-40 from three point range. The 31 misses are the second most all time in a Finals win.
All five games of the series have been decided by ten or more points.