Andrew Wiggins delivers on both ends as Warriors beat Celtics to lead NBA Finals 3-2
Exhibiting a determined confidence and grit all game, Andrew Wiggins single-handedly took the pressure off Stephen Curry and delivered the best game yet of his eight-year career.
Now the first-time All-Star is on the cusp of becoming a first-time NBA champion — and helping Curry capture yet another title.
“It’s something I dreamt about for sure, being in the league, and this is the ultimate stage,” Wiggins said. “It doesn’t get bigger than this.”
Wiggins had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Klay Thompson scored 21 points, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics 104-94 on Monday night for a 3-2 NBA Finals lead.
“Coming into this year, he was an All-Star starter for a reason,” Warriors forward 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.”
One game after his 43-point performance, Curry contributed 16 points and eight assists but was 0 for 9 from three-point range. The career three-point leader’s NBA-record streak of 132 straight postseason games with at least one three ended, along with his NBA-best run of 233 consecutive games with a three between the regular season and playoffs combined.
“He’s going to be livid going into Game 6. That’s exactly what we need,” Green said.
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Capping his brilliant performance on both ends, Wiggins drove through the lane for an emphatic one-handed slam with 2:10 left.
“He’s just been fantastic, not just in this series but throughout the playoffs,” coach Steve Kerr said.
The Warriors can win their fourth NBA title in eight years when the series resumes Thursday night in Boston. If the Celtics can win at home, the series will return to the Bay Area for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday. All five games so far have been decided by 10 or more points.
Jayson Tatum had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who lost consecutive games for the first time this postseason. Marcus Smart was whistled for a technical foul and an offensive foul in a one-second span early in the fourth. He overcame a slow start to score 20 points.
Jordan Poole knocked down a 33-foot three-pointer from the left wing to beat the third-quarter buzzer as the Warriors took a 75-74 lead into the final 12 minutes after the Celtics roared back in the third.
The Celtics found their own third-quarter magic that has long defined Golden State’s success in the second half. Boston trailed 51-39 at the break before charging back with a 35-point outburst in the third.
Al Horford hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 6:28 left in the quarter that made it 58-55 as the Celtics finally found their shooting groove from deep. Grant Williams’ conventional three-point play at 3:55 gave Boston a 66-61 lead.
Boston made eight straight threes after missing its first 12 tries.
“Definitely we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be during times there. Just tough,” Horford said. “Definitely now our backs are against the wall and we have to see what we’re made of.”
Jaylen Brown was two for 11 to start the game and finished with 18 points on five-for-18 shooting. He missed all five of his three-point tries.
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Tatum gave Boston its first three-pointer on the night 4:34 before halftime, and the Celtics wound up 11 for 32 from deep overall. The Celtics were sloppy in stretches, committing 18 turnovers.
“When we’re at our best, it’s simple ball movement. I think the third quarter showed that. The drive and kick was beautiful, was working, getting guys wide-open shots,” coach Ime Udoka said.
Golden State wound up nine for 40 from beyond the arc — Wiggins 0 for 6. Curry didn’t make a three-pointer for the first time since he went 0 for 4 in a 134-111 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 18, 2018.
“A night that he didn’t have it going we found offense elsewhere,” said Green, who had eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists before fouling out with 3:01 remaining.
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