Andrew Wiggins, who displayed a determined confidence and grit throughout the game, single-handedly relieved Stephen Curry of the pressure and delivered the best game of his eight-year career.
Now, the first-time All-Star is on the verge of becoming an NBA champion — and assisting Curry in capturing yet another title.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to be in the league, and this is the ultimate stage,” Wiggins said. “It doesn’t get much larger than this.”
Wiggins had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Klay Thompson had 21, and the Golden State Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics 104-94 on Monday night to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.
“He was an All-Star starter for a reason coming into this year,” 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.”
Curry had 16 points and eight assists one game after his 43-point performance, but he was 0 for 9 from three-point range. The career three-point leader’s NBA-record streak of 132 consecutive postseason games with at least one three-pointer ended, as did his NBA-best run of 233 consecutive regular-season and playoff games with at least one three-pointer.
“He’ll be furious going into Game 6.” “That’s exactly what we require,” Green stated.
With 2:10 remaining, Wiggins capped a brilliant performance on both ends by driving through the lane for an emphatic one-handed slam.
“He’s been fantastic, not just in this series, but throughout the playoffs,” said coach Steve Kerr.
When the series resumes Thursday night in Boston, the Warriors have a chance to win their fourth NBA title in eight years. If the Celtics win at home, the series will return to the Bay Area on Sunday for a winner-take-all Game 7. So far, all five games have been decided by 10 points or more.
For the Celtics, who lost consecutive games for the first time this postseason, Jayson Tatum had 27 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Smart was called for a technical foul and an offensive foul within one second of each other early in the fourth quarter. He came back from a slow start to score 20 points.
Jordan Poole hit a 33-foot three-pointer from the left wing to beat the third-quarter buzzer, giving the Warriors a 75-74 lead heading into the fourth quarter after the Celtics rallied in the third.
The Celtics found their own third-quarter magic, which has long defined Golden State’s second-half success. Boston trailed 51-39 at the half before exploding for 35 points in the third.
With 6:28 left in the quarter, Al Horford hit a go-ahead three-pointer to make it 58-55, and the Celtics had finally found their shooting groove from deep. At 3:55, Grant Williams’ traditional three-point play gave Boston a 66-61 lead.
Boston hit eight consecutive three-pointers after missing its first 12 attempts. “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 started the game 0 for 11 and finished with 18 points on 5-for-18 shooting. He failed all five of his three-point attempts.
4:34 before halftime, Tatum hit Boston’s first three-pointer of the night, and the Celtics finished 11 for 32 from deep on the night. Throughout the game, the Celtics were sloppy, committing 18 turnovers.
“It’s just simple ball movement when we’re at our best.” That, I believe, was demonstrated in the third quarter. “The drive and kick were beautiful, and they were working, getting guys wide-open shots,” said coach Ime Udoka.
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.