Follow our live coverage of the NBA Finals 2022 between Golden State and Boston Celtics.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Golden State had been screwing up its offense for most of the third quarter Monday night when Andrew Wiggins passed the ball to Jordan Poole, a young guard with enormous confidence. Just before time expired, Poole hit a 3-pointer from 33 feet that he bounced off glass before going through the rim.
The jerk was a lifeblood for Golden State in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and for the team’s white-knuckle fans, who rode waves of ups and downs before the Warriors cruised to a 104-94 victory that put on the cusp of another championship.
Golden State, which took a 3-2 series lead, can clinch its fourth title in eight seasons, and first since 2018, when the team goes on the road to face Boston in Game 6 on Thursday night. .
Wiggins led Golden State with 26 points, and Klay Thompson added 21. Jayson Tatum had a game-high 27 points for the Celtics in the loss.
After a strong start, Golden State led by 12, but four free throws by Jaylen Brown and consecutive 3-pointers by Tatum gave the Celtics the first 10 points of the second half, a surprising turn of events given Golden State’s steamy third rooms. The Celtics soon took the lead when Marcus Smart and Al Horford hit their own back-to-back 3-pointers, part of a 19-4 run.
Golden State missed its first eight 3-point attempts of the second half before Thompson finally hit a pair, a much-needed boost for Golden State and for Thompson, who had had his share of trouble in the series.
After Poole marked the third quarter with his deep 3-pointer, a shot that had the home crowd at Chase Center in a state of near delirium, his teammates seemed to ride that crest of excitement. By the time Thompson got rid of Smart to make another 3-pointer, Golden State was back up 8 points.
After scoring 43 points in Golden State’s Game 4 win, Stephen Curry put in a quiet effort in Game 5, finishing with just 16 points and shooting 0-for-9 from 3-point range. But his companions complied. Golden State appeared locked in from the start, passing the ball from side to side, corner to corner, constantly searching for the best possible shot. It’s not like the team has always been able to connect, shooting 3-of-17 from 3-point range in the first half.
Still, Golden State led by as much as 16 late in the first quarter before Boston began to slow down with Curry resting on the bench. Smart sank a 10-foot jump shot. Robert Williams worked his way inside for a layup.
Golden State recalibrated when Curry clinched a 51-39 halftime lead with an up-and-down layup.
In the first half, Golden State was buoyed by Wiggins, who had 16 points and 7 rebounds, and by Draymond Green, who put together one of his most assertive stretches in the Finals. In the first four games of the series, he scored a total of 17 points. By halftime in Game 5, he had 8 points and was flying down the floor.
Tatum, after working his shot for much of the series, did what he could to keep the Celtics close, putting up 13 points and 8 rebounds in the first half.
Prior to the game, Celtics coach Ime Udoka expressed concern that Tatum had become preoccupied with finding fouls instead of making good shots. Udoka wanted him to be “more physical” in his impulses.
“A lot of times he’s like floating, starting with one leg, when he can plant and start with two, he ends up a little bit stronger,” Udoka said, adding: “We’re just telling him to be decisive. He has done it all year, he has seen all the coverage and, for the most part, he has separated it.”
For Golden State coach Steve Kerr, Monday was the 25th anniversary of a poignant moment in his playing career. It was Kerr’s jump shot in Game 6 of the 1997 Finals that secured another championship for the Chicago Bulls, the fifth of the Michael Jordan era, against the Utah Jazz.
“Something every young basketball player dreams of,” he said, adding, “Finals are finals, whether you’re playing or training. It is the maximum competition in the world of basketball”.