SAN FRANCISCO — Golden State’s Steph Curry tackled his shot. The Warriors’ 3-pointers flew away. The Boston Celtics started to take control and it looked like they could win another away game in the playoffs.
Then the Celtics had a minor meltdown on offense and refereeing and Golden State took the advantage.
Relying on better performance than Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and a strong substitute, the Warriors defeated the Celtics 104-94 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday.
This was the 31st time a Finals series has drawn 2-2 and in the previous 30 occasions, the winner of Game 5 has won the series by 73.3% (22-8).
Golden State could win the title in Game 6 in Boston on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
The Warriors will seek to win their fourth championship in eight seasons, their first since beating Cleveland in 2018. This will be the seventh overall and the third for a franchise, after the Los Angeles Lakers and Celtics with 17 each.
This was the Celtics’ first consecutive playoff loss since this season.
Here are five key takeaways from Game 5:
Wiggins is growing again
Wiggins followed up his double-double in Game 4 with another in Game 5: the team’s highest in points (26) and rebounds (13) and reached a point where it’s fair to ask: Where would the Warriors be in this series? Without Wiggins?
Wiggins had 23 on 12 field goals and also shot with two assists, two steals and a block. In the fourth quarter, he scored 10 points on 5-on-5 shots, including a one-handed emphatic dunk with 2:10 remaining, giving Golden State a 99-84 lead.
His performance in the last two games is a major reason why the Warriors are in this position.
Curry fights for the first time in the series
Curry had at least 30 points in the first four games of the series, including 43 in Game 4, the second-highest scoring win of his Finals career.
Curry finished the game with 16 points on 22 on 7 field goal shooting, but recorded eight assists, three rebounds and a steal.
Curry missed his field goal on Monday and missed all nine of his three-pointers. According to basketball-reference.com, for the first time in his career, he missed a 3-pointer in a playoff game.
Tatum starts slow, heats up, ends cold
5. In the first seven minutes of the game, Jayson Tatum did not attempt a single shot. When he started shooting late in the first quarter, he had a hard time missing.
Over the course of three quarters, Tatum tied with 9-to-15 shooting and had 22 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. He started the third quarter with two threes and helped the Celtics clear the 12-point lead.
However, in the fourth quarter, the Celtics were trailing 29-20 as they only hit five points on 5-on-1 shooting.
Coming to play in Green Game 5
Green heard the criticism. about his game. About making his podcast during the NBA Finals. He played the strongest game of the series in Game 5 and came out aggressively in the first quarter with four points, two rebounds and two assists.
On Sunday, Magic Johnson tweeted, “Expecting a triple double from Draymond Green tomorrow!”
Close, but not quite. Still, Green had eight points, eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal.
3 ball shortages for both teams
The Celtics entered Game 5 with 37.2% in the 3s, followed by 37.8% in the Finals. They missed their first 12 3-pointers and didn’t make one until Tatum hit 4:34 of the second quarter.
Boston finished the half 3 to 15-3, which was oddly better than Golden State’s 3-on-17. Warriors finished 3rd with 22.5% and Celtics 34.4% each.
A Warrior running the 3-point field goal: Klay Thompson, who scored 21 points and had 5 3s to 11. Thompson made two 3’s in the fourth quarter – a 10-0 Warriors division rushed to start the quarter and a division with 1:45 left put Golden State 102-86 ahead.
The offense wasn’t pretty, but it’s also not a surprise given that the Celtics were #1 in defensive efficiency and the Warriors #2 in regular season.
Difference? Boston shot 43 to 20 in the arc and Golden State scored 48 to 32 to beat the Celtics 50-36 in the paint. Boston also missed 10 free throws, and Golden State’s bench beat Boston 31-10. The Celtics had 18 turnovers resulting in 22 Warriors points, and Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were responsible for 13 turnovers.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
This article was originally published on USA TODAY: Warriors beat Celtics, on brink of NBA championship in Game 5