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NBA Finals 2022: Golden State Warriors remind the NBA they can win high-stakes hoops by any means necessary

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SAN FRANCISCO — The NBA Finals allow for minimal margins of error. The opponents are too elitist and the opportunities are too valuable to waste in a seven-game series. For the Boston Celtics, the commission sins in Game 5 were too numerous to beat a Golden State Warriors team with championship pedigree on their home floor. The Warriors prevailed 104-94 and are now one win away from capturing their fourth title in eight years.

With the exception of a handful of momentous individual performances and team outbursts, the 2022 Finals have been a tough defensive affair. In Game 5, both teams executed their defensive game plans competently, if not perfectly. Golden State ran out and relied on their excellent help defense, while the Celtics tried to turn the Warriors’ shooters into drivers, offering contested shots from long range when the Warriors settled for them.

Having squandered a fourth-quarter lead in Game 4 and a chance to claim a 3-1 series lead, the Celtics turned possession over 18 times, the margin for error in a Game 5 in which both teams battled for maintain a consistent offense. The loss also squandered something the Celtics faithful craved from their superstar: a Jayson Tatum game.

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The All-NBA first-team standout led all scorers with 27 points in his most dominant production of the series. Adding to the misery further, Stephen Curry delivered one of the lesser performances of his, presenting another opportunity for the Celtics to capitalize.

For the Warriors, the maturation of Andrew Wiggins was one of the few offensive bright spots on a night in which Curry missed 15 of his 22 attempts from the field, including a painful 0-for-9 night from behind the 3-point line. . Wiggins continues to be a revelation for Golden State. For all of the Warriors’ appealing offensive style, they feature limited individual shot creation off the dribble, particularly since Kevin Durant’s departure after the 2018-19 season.

While it’s unreasonable to expect Wiggins to fill the void left by Durant, it’s exciting for the Warriors to see him attack the paint and break the boards. Wiggins finished with 26 points on 12-for-23 shooting and zero turnovers. He also played big for the Warriors, securing a game-high 13 rebounds.

In a postseason in which he’s taken over the primary defender assignment from Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies) and Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Wiggins can claim another stamp on his passport as one of the postseason’s standout individual defenders. Once again, he carried most of the charge against Tatum, forcing the Celtics’ star into a series of tough attempts.

One of Wiggins’ signature sequences came midway through the fourth quarter when he forced a passing pass from Tatum, then took a pass from Curry on the left wing and drove to his right for a floater over Celtics big man Al Horford. , which extended the Warriors’ lead. at 11. Wiggins then produced the dagger with just over two minutes remaining with an emphatic dunk over the Celtics’ Derrick White.

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Andrew Wiggins goes hard to the rim and throws a big dunk to help put the game out of reach for the Warriors.

Having spent much of the series in an emotional spiral while playing some of the least effective basketball of his postseason career, Draymond Green re-formed as one of the game’s most impactful creative players. He shook off his offensive doldrums early with a couple of buckets in the first five minutes. From there, Green carried out his usual duties as offensive facilitator and defensive baseline general.

Interested parties will likely be able to hear a more elaborate analysis on Green’s podcast. But for a few hours during live action, Green focused solely on the task at hand and delivered excellent results. The Celtics were 1-for-10 when Green was the defender in contention. He fouled out in the final minutes of the game with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists in 35 minutes.

All season long, the Warriors have emphasized that their team is different from those that won three titles during Curry’s youth. That has proven to be true in this pull tractor series. However, for all the aesthetic shortcomings and unsightly offensive efforts, this Warriors squad still shares one common point with its previous incarnations: the ability to win high-stakes games either way.

One more win either way on Thursday night and those differences become irrelevant.

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