For the first time in this NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors lead the series. After defending their home floor in a 104-94 victory over the Boston Celtics, the Dubs have a 3-2 series lead and are just one victory away from winning their first title since 2018.
The Warriors started the game with an excellent burst of energy. Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, in particular, set the tone with their best stretch of the NBA Finals. Green was all over the floor defensively, and, for the first time in the series, he had early success scoring. Green converted a couple of early baskets en route to his best offensive performance of the series.
In spite of Steph Curry’s least efficient offensive quarter of the series, the Dubs led 27-16 at the end of the first quarter. However, his impact (as always) was apparent as soon as he went to the bench. Jordan Poole struggled at the start of the second quarter, and the Warriors lead fell to six before Curry returned with less than seven minutes remaining in the first half. Steph’s presence helped open up Golden State’s offense, and the Warriors led 51-39 at halftime.
Ahead heading into the third quarter, the Warriors were in the driver’s seat if they could just continue their third-quarter dominance. However, the Celtics came out of the half inspired. Their hot-shooting close to the first half carried into the second alongside another level of defensive intensity. The Warriors were smothered offensively. Boston jumped out to a 19-4 run in the second half and took their first lead of the game.
Klay Thompson and Poole answered the Celtics’ run with a pair of threes apiece, including a buzzer-beating heave from Poole that put the Dubs ahead 75-74 at the end of the quarter.
This time, the Warriors’ secondary players delivered when Curry rested to start the fourth quarter. Thompson, Poole, and Wiggins scored all of Golden State’s points in a 10-0 run to start the quarter.
Curry returned to the floor with 7:44 remaining in regulation with an 85-77 lead and the Celtics would never get closer than that. Despite Curry’s worst shooting performance of the Finals, Boston (rightfully) remained focused on limiting his scoring opportunities. However, Andrew Wiggins made the Celtics pay.
Wiggins finished 0-for-6 from three but was an exceptional 12-for-17 from inside the arc and scored a team-high 26 points and added a game-high 13 rebounds. Wiggins’ rebounding and defensive efforts have been consistent all series long, but with Curry managing just 16 points on 7-for-22 shooting from the field (he did have 8 assists and a starter-high +15 plus/minus), Wiggins pushed Golden State across the finish line.
Thompson put together his best overall offensive performance in the series as well, finishing with 21 points on just 14 shots from the field. Green fouled out, but was within striking distance of a triple-double, recording 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Poole and Gary Payton II each made major contributions off the Warriors bench as well. Payton had a game-high +16 plus/minus, generated 3 steals with his excellent defensive effort, and scored 15 points on 6-for-8 from the field. Poole scored 14 points, including those two huge threes at the end of the third quarter.
The Celtics were again unable to get great performances on the same night from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Tatum carried the load on Monday, scoring a game-high 27 points on 10-for-20 shooting alongside 10 rebounds. Brown, though, was just 5-for-18 from the field with 18 points. Marcus Smart (20) and Robert Williams (10) were the only other Celtics in double figures.
Now both teams will head back to Boston for Game 6, where the Warriors will look to finish the series and officially become NBA champs. They each have two days off before returning to the floor for opening tip on Thursday, June 16th at 6:00 PM Pacific Time.