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In the most crucial game in these Finals thus far, the Warriors took care of business at home and are now a single win away from winning the 2021-2022 NBA Championship. I’ll break down a rather interesting Game 5 that occurred on Monday night, along with a few pieces of news that broke over the last couple of days.
Warriors 104, Celtics 94 (GSW leads series 3-2)
I’ve probably said this word far too many times throughout these playoffs, but Game 5 was yet another bizarre one in these Finals. Adjectives aside, the Warriors went up 3-2 in a 10-point win in Monday’s Game 5, and need just one more win in two tries to get the trophy back in their hands. It was not one of the two Splash Brothers (is it three now?) That stole the spotlight in the tie-breaking victory, but rather former No. 1 overall pick and first-time All-Star: Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins left his handprints all over this game and ended with a stat line including 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and no turnovers in a game-high 43 minutes. He’s now gobbled up 29 total rebounds in his last two games, both of which individually beat out his regular season career-high in that department, and his defense has been spectacular the whole series. He did go 0-of-6 from deep, but his 12-of-17 mark from inside the arc is even more impressive when you look at how tough some of his looks were. Steph is still likely the frontrunner for Finals MVP if the Warriors do win the championship, but if he does, Wiggins will be second and it’s not particularly close at the moment. Speaking of Steph, Mr. Curry had a nightmare game after a 43-point masterpiece in Game 4, shooting 7-of-22 from the floor for 16 points, three rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one turnover in 37 minutes. You may notice that I left out the three-pointers from his stat line, but that’s because for the first time in his 133-game postseason career, he failed to hit any of his nine attempts from deep. That being said, Golden State won the game on a night Steph was on the wrong side of personal history, but he can not be too down on himself given how good he’s been and, more importantly, the result of the game. Klay Thompson started off slow again but turned it on in the second half, scoring 16 of his 21 points (7-of-14 FGs overall) in the second 24-minute period, also tallying three rebounds, two assists, two steals, five 3-pointers and one turnover in 40 minutes. Klay is starting to get it going again and has shot 14-of-34 from deep in Games 3-5 after hitting just 4-of-15 in Games 1 and 2 combined, and if we see a vintage Game 6 Klay on Thursday, the Dubs could very well be walking away with yet another championship. Draymond Green was better than usual with an 8/7/8 line with a steal in 35 minutes before fouling out, and he basically hit his Finals scoring average in the first five minutes of the game and looked a lot better than usual. Green also fouled out for the third time in this series alone, the first player to do so since 2000, so he needs to mind his manners but there’s no guarantee he ever will. Otto Porter started again but was invisible with two points in 15 minutes, while recent bench demotion Kevon Looney was not much better with a 2/4/3 line in 17 foul-plagued minutes. There were only two Warriors reserves worth mentioning, but they were both absolutely huge in the win, starting with Gary Payton’s 15 points, five boards, three steals and one trey in 26 minutes. It’s truly hard to believe this is the same guy that suffered a fractured elbow in these same playoffs, and this best offensive games of these Finals by a hefty margin – GPII did not even score 15 points in his first three Finals games combined. Jordan Poole was the second excellent reserve on Golden State’s side, scoring 14 points in as many minutes, including another: wild buzzer beater: at the end of the third quarter.
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This Celtics team continues to be one of the more wildly inconsistent and arguably hilarious teams we’ve seen that have gotten this far, and the blunders on Monday were enough to lose a crucial Game 5 in Golden State. Boston missed its first 12 shots from deep, which marks the record for most missed triples to start a Finals game ever, but then proceeded to hit eight consecutive threes, which is a new Finals record. They stole the Warriors third-quarter identity and were dominant in a 35-24 period, but then looked gassed in the fourth and fell apart to solidify the loss. Speaking of gassed, Jayson Tatum looked just that in his whopping 44 minutes, but still was the leading scorer on his team with 27 points (10-of-20 FGs), 10 rebounds, four assists, five 3-pointers and four turnovers. The good news ends there, however, as he went just 2-of-6 from the line to only add to the Celtics’ struggles from there (21-of-31 overall), and his four turnovers brought him to 95 total in this postseason to mark the most by a player in a single postseason ever. He did join some elite company on Monday, including tying Kevin Durant for most 20/10 playoff games with two triples before turning 25 for the most of such games ever (12 each), and also became the second Celtics player to eclipse 600 points in one postseason (Larry Bird, twice). That won’t mean much for Tatum, as his team is now in deep trouble and will look to take advantage of two full days off to get their legs back under them in the biggest do-or-die game yet. Marcus Smart also reached the 20-point mark, scoring exactly that many on a 7-of-15 shooting clip, but nearly had as many turnovers (four) as combined rebounds / assists / steals / blocks (five total). Jaylen Brown did record a 18/9/4 line with a steal, but he did not look quite himself for much of the evening, hitting just five shots on 18 tries while turning the ball over five times and failing to hit a triple on any of his five attempts. Robert Williams scored 10 points with eight boards and two dimes in 30 minutes and somehow did not record a defensive stat (the team had two steals and two blocks in all on the night, though), but the minutes were there and you have to give him credit for toughing it out despite lingering left knee soreness. Al Horford was so-so yet again with nine points and nine boards in 33 minutes, including tying Brown for worst plus / minus in the game with a -19 net rating. Grant Williams was close to that with a -18 and while he had the executed only two swats, he added just three points, three boards and one dime in 16 minutes. The entire Boston bench (Grant included) was highly ineffective, totaling just 10 points and highlighted by Derrick White’s one point on 0-of-4 shooting in 21 minutes, which could not be further from the White we saw in Game 1. To reiterate, just keep in mind that the Celtics have been phenomenal on the heels of a loss in these playoffs with Monday being an exception, and I know I’m not alone when I say that I’d love for this series to go the full length and for there to be a Game 7 on Sunday.
– Nuggets traded JaMychal Green and a 2027 projected first-round pick to OKC for the No. 30 pick in the coming draft and two future second-round picks – Denver now has the 21st and 30th picks in the draft, with OKC unsurprisingly hogging the 2nd, 12th and 34th picks. Green would be a veteran presence for OKC if he remains, but the Thunder could also buy him out and go a different direction. In Denver’s case, they’ve advanced to the WCF just once in the last four years despite rostering a two-time MVP, so hopefully they snag someone that can contribute a bit off the bat (and hopefully Murray and MPJ are healthy).
– Montrezl Harrell facing felony drug charges and potential jail time – Harrell was pulled over in Kentucky on May 12 for traveling too close to the vehicle in front of him, and soon enough, three pounds of marijuana were found in his vacuum-sealed bags. This is considered a Class D Felony for first-time offenders and the offense is punishable by 1-to-5 years of jail time (and $ 10,000), so it’d be shocking to see him with the team on opening night.
– Zion Williamson told reporters that he wants to remain in New Orleans – I can not blame him too much, as the recent Zion-less Pelicans took the best regular-season team in the league to six games in the first round of the playoffs and looked like a lot of fun even without their cornerstone franchise. There had previously been rumors about him wanting to be traded, but he’s recently made it more obvious that he wants to remain in New Orleans. All the Pels need from Zion is for him to be healthy for the upcoming season, and things are looking good so far as he was cleared to return to play without any restrictions back on May 26.
– The Hawks are considered serious contenders for Suns center Deandre Ayton – after Ayton’s fallout in the postseason, he’s been expected to be on the move and Jeff Fischer of Bleacher Report is convinced Atlanta has heavy interest in him. The only way the hawks could get him is via a sign-and-trade deal, but it’s very doable and he could be a fun addition to the current Hawks squad. One would have to think that Ayton’s fantasy value would be on the rise should he be moved, which makes sense with more usage likely coming his way, but you can never be too sure of anything in this league. Also in Hawks news, they are rumored to be trading John Collins for a lottery pick as reported by Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer Monday evening. The Kings and Blazers, who own the fourth and seventh picks, respectively, are rumored to be interested, and Collins is a guy that could help both teams improve their roster immediately. Don’t expect anything to happen just because of the report, but it’s clear the Hawks are ready to make some moves after a disappointing effort in this season’s playoffs. The final news piece in Atlanta was the promotion of assistant GM Landry Fields to General Manager earlier this month, and he’ll be the head of “one of the most active teams” in trade talks, as they were labeled by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN .
– Taylor Jenkins and the Memphis Grizzlies agreed on a multi-year contract extension – more details should be coming but bringing back the runner-up in Coach of the Year after a highly encouraging season seemed like a no-brainer. They went 56-26 to clinch the second spot in the West and are just getting started with their core of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr., with one of the only tough decisions being how to handle the unrestricted free-agency of backup point guard Tyus Jones.