Ime Udoka’s Celtics now know what it’s like to play in the NBA Finals. They enjoyed the experience.
The Celtics shocked the Warriors and silenced the home crowd with a 20-2 run down the stretch of the fourth quarter. The Celtics entered the final frame down 12, but their three-point barrage (9-12) buried Golden State, outscoring them 40-16 in the period, for a 120-108 final.
Al Horford led the scoring with 26, shooting 9-12 and making 6-8 threes. Jaylen Brown had 24, Derrick White added 21, and Marcus Smart 18. Jayson Tatum couldn’t buy a hoop, but tallied 13 assists. Boston was 21-41 from the arc, besting the Warriors’ 19-45.
Steph Curry led the Warriors with 34 points and Andrew Wiggins had 20.
The opening minutes were frenetic, with the Warriors leading 20-14 at the first timeout after 6:05 of play. Golden State was 4-7 from the arc and the Celtics were 4-8. Some nervousness from Boston was evident — Tatum shot an airball three and missed two free throws — and some poor defense — giving up a Wiggins layup off an inbounds play and failing to pick up Curry in transition, allowing a wide open swish.
Curry finished the quarter with a scorching 21 points, making a Finals record 6-8 from the arc. It was amazing to watch, and that’s all the Celtics actually did. Lack of communication left him open repeatedly, and Boston paid the price.
The Cs hung in there, however, trailing just 32-28 at the end of the quarter. Tatum and Smart had 6 apiece and White and Horford each added 5 points.
No one slowed down in the second quarter. Threes rained down from both sides, with White, Payton Pritchard and Daniel Theis among Boston’s longball contributors. An 8-0 burst gave the Warriors their first double-digit lead. The Celtics answered with a 10-0 run led by 6 points from Jaylen, plus Tatum assisting on a Rob Williams dunk and a long two by Smart to beat the shot clock. Tie score at 47.
Brown hit two free throws for a 51-49 lead, Horford drilled his second triple, and when Curry picked up his third foul, Tatum made a pair from the line. The Celtics went to halftime with a 56-54 lead. Curry went scoreless in the second period, and Otto Porter, Jr. added 9 on a trio of triples. Warriors built a 12-5 advantage in second-chance points. Boston was led by Jaylen with a dozen points and Smart added 10. Tatum offset his cold 2-9 shooting with 7 assists.
✅ the dish— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 3, 2022
✅ the swish pic.twitter.com/QUOxvnrnys
The Warriors rebuilt their lead in the first five minutes of the third. The Celtics were missing and were one-and-done. Meanwhile, Golden State added 7 more second-chance points and Curry got hot again. The Warriors went from a 61-60 lead to 80-66 in 6 minutes.
The quarter ended with Boston trailing 92-80, and it could’ve been worse. The C’s were outscored 38-24, shot just 7-19, and committed 8 fouls. Wiggins had 12 points in the quarter and Curry added 9.
Starting the fourth, suddenly the Celtics woke up. A 7-0 run, keyed by Jaylen scoring 5 and lobbing to Rob for a slam, made it 92-87, forcing a Warriors timeout.
JB is cookin' pic.twitter.com/ho8Dxl5Fxs— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 3, 2022
A steal and Pritchard fast break layup, then a Jaylen triple brought the C’s within two. When White hit a three, Boston trailed just 101-100. And then White hit another three to tie it at 103. Curry missed a drive, and Pritchard found Horford at the arc. He swished Boston’s sixth straight trey of the quarter to give the Celts a 106-103 lead. The crowd was stunned.
The Celtics weren’t done. After a steal, Horford hit the seventh three to push the lead to 6. After a timeout, he drained a jumper, then Smart buried a three. It was a 14-0 run, and the lead was 11 with 2:53 left. Smart’s triple capped off 17 straight points.
The Celtics now have two days off before facing the Warriors in Game 2, Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.
For more postgame coverage of the Boston’s big comeback, tune into the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game.