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Celtics go ice cold in 4th quarter, lose Game 5 to Warriors 104-94

Warriors supporting cast propels them to a pivotal Game 5 victory.

2022 NBA Finals - Game Five Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If you told me the Celtics would limit Steph Curry to 16 points on 22 shots and 0/9 on three pointers, I’d feel pretty good about Boston’s chances to win the pivotal, momentous, crucial, pick-an-adjective Game 5. But Andrew Wiggins scored 26 points with 13 rebounds, Klay Thompson added 21, and Gary Payton II scored 15 points on 6/8 shooting, as the Warriors came away with the 104-94 win.

Tatum scored 27 with 10 rebounds and Boston was in control of the game after a great third quarter, but they couldn’t continue it in the fourth, shooting 4/15 from the field while missing four free throws, and the Warriors escaped with a 10-point victory.

Over four NBA Finals games, the first quarter was never an issue for the Celtics. They scored 28 in Games 1 & 4, 30 in Game 2, and 33 in Game 3, but tonight had only 16 points on 8/23 shooting with four turnovers. Draymond Green converted on a mere six field goals over the first four games, but he got two early buckets tonight, as Golden State tried to get him involved offensively.

Boston trailed 24-8 before Tatum scored six straight points in the final minutes. Robert Williams picked up a questionable shooting foul as time expired, leading to an Ime Udoka technical foul, but the Celtics were fortunate that Golden State hit only 1 of 3 free throws. They trailed 16-27 after one quarter.

With Steph Curry on the bench, the Warriors scored only one field goal over the first five minutes of the second quarter, and the Celtics cut it to 26-32 after Rob Williams finished a nifty flip pass from Marcus Smart. We’re at the point in the series where both teams can anticipate each other’s offensive sets, and it showed with the barrage of bricks and absence of driving lanes.

Horford and Tatum hit threes on back-to-back possessions after the Celtics started 0/12 from deep. Tatum then uncharacteristically missed two free throws, but Smart responded with a wing three at the 2:34 mark. With under a minute, Andrew Wiggins converted on a fast break layup for his 16th point of the half, and the Celtics trailed 39-51 at halftime.

While Tatum scored 13 first-half points on 6/9 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds, Boston missed five free throws, shot 39 percent, and had nine turnovers that led to 13 Warrior points. Jaylen Brown shot a paltry 2/10 from the field, and though Golden State struggled from deep, they were 17/26 from two-point range, scoring 26 points in the paint amidst a mediocre (by his standards) 10-point half from Curry.

The Celtics played with increased assertiveness to start the second half and went on a 10-0 run in the first 105 seconds. Jaylen drew back-to-back shooting fouls on Thompson and Jayson hit two straight threes, leading to an early Steve Kerr timeout. Boston intensified the ball pressure and forced three Golden State turnovers.

Smart and Horford hit open threes on consecutive possessions and the Celtics took a 58-55 lead (their first of the game) at the 6:28 mark. Boston hit eight straight from three after missing its first 12. Both teams found an offensive rhythm after — as Mike Breen described it — a “ragged” first half.

Grant Williams, who’s struggled this series, had a Manu Ginóbili-style block on a Curry three-point attempt then finished the transition and-1 on the other end.

Klay hit back-to-back threes to keep the Warriors in the game. After a blown coverage on a sideline out-of-bounds play, Jordan Poole got open and swished a three. Then, in a dejá vu moment from game two, he banked in a three at the buzzer to give them a 75-74 lead heading into the fourth. It saved a potentially disastrous quarter for the Warriors, who allowed the Celtics to score 35 points on 58 percent shooting.

Boston missed its first four shots of the fourth quarter and trailed 74-82 at the 9:30 mark. They didn’t score until 8:21 when Brown found a driving lane and converted on a finger roll. Smart picked up a technical foul then immediately got called for an off-ball offensive foul (featuring a marvelous flop from Poole).

Wiggins scored on back-to-back possessions to put the Warriors back up double digits. Then after Tatum missed a pair of free throws, Curry hit a 15-foot floater to give them a 91-79 lead with under five minutes to play. The Celtics couldn’t get the stops necessary for a fourth quarter rally. Wiggins had a ferocious dunk then Klay followed it with a dagger three to give Golden State a 102-86, effectively putting the game out of reach.

The Celtics will look to regroup by Thursday and win Game 6 in Boston, their final home game, but hopefully not their final game of the season.

For more postgame coverage of Game 5, tune into the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A. Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Boston’s fourth quarter struggles.

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