SAN FRANCISCO — Inside the glittering arena of the first-ever NBA Finals, fans stood and cheered as the final minute of the game approached in what may have been the Golden State Warriors’ last home sendoff before returning as champions .
At the last minute and 19 seconds of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Stephen Curry sat on the bench with a big smile on his face, chatting happily with people nearby.
“I don’t think I’m happier after a 0-for-whatever type of night,” Curry said later. He added: “Yeah, there was a fire going on and I wanted to shoot, but all that’s left is how we win the game. And we did.”
Relying on Curry for the first four games of this series against the Boston Celtics, Golden State has shown the ability to succeed even when his shots are ineffective. Monday was Curry’s first career playoff game and he didn’t make at least one 3-pointer. It was also a 104-94 victory that gave Golden State a 3-2 lead in the Finals and a chance to win the championship in Boston on Thursday.
The Celtics went to great lengths to slow Curry after scoring 43 points in Game 4 on Friday. So in Game 5, everyone else made them pay.
“Everybody actually stepped up — Wiggs, JP, Klay made some big shots, and Draymond found his life and his spirit and the way he impacted the game,” Curry said.
Wiggs is Andrew Wiggins, who used to be called bankrupt when some thought he couldn’t deliver on his promise to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. He finished with 26 points for Golden State with 13 rebounds and two steals. He threw the ball away from Celtics guard Jaylen Brown in the first quarter and blocked the shot.
JP is Jordan Poole with 14 points, make a three-pointer When the third quarter was over, he ran to the corner closest to him and charged into the crowd. After a disastrous quarterback, that rim gave Golden State a 1-point lead.
Curry’s 3-pointer partner Thompson has been inconsistent in the Finals, but made five 3-pointers in Game 5 for 21 points.
Draymond Green had a game that Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr called a “wonderful” game as his struggles early in the series led some to wonder if his pursuits outside of basketball were distracting him from the game. attention.
Journeyman Gary Payton II, 29, scored 15 points for Golden State on 6-of-8 shooting.
“Gary is bigger than any other 6-foot-2 NBA player I’ve ever seen,” Thompson said. “His vertical and his ability to slide in front of the ball, obviously we know where that comes from: from his pops. But his vertical is something special and his improved jumper is a huge weapon for us as well. .”
Curry knows the Celtics won’t let him get away with what he did to them in Boston again. In the days between Game 4 and Game 5, he watched the movie for a dual purpose: he wanted to see what worked so he could try to replicate it. He wanted to predict potential adjustments that Boston might use to block him.
The Celtics did adjust and feel good about how they guarded Curry in Game 5.
“There’s more physicality there,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “Tuned up the coverage a little bit. But we have to do the same for everyone else.”
When it comes to how Curry’s teammates make up for his shooting woes, Curry and Udoka focused on their offense. But more important to Golden State is their defense.
They held the Celtics to 94 points and had 22 of Boston’s 18 turnovers. Payton 3 steals, Thompson 2, Green and Curry 1 each.
The only quarter the Celtics looked better was the third, when they made 6-of-9 from 3-point range and 11 of 19 from the field, turning a 16-point deficit to 5 with 3:55 left. points lead. period.
“They dominated almost the entire third quarter,” Green said. “For us, we still have a lead going into the fourth quarter, which is huge. I think that’s something we can build and we did.”
As Golden State regained control of the game, a sense of joy could be seen throughout the team.
When Celtics forward Jayson Tatum bumped Payton with less than four minutes left, Payton put his hands on the ground and started doing push-ups. Wiggins ran past Boston’s Derrick White for a one-handed dunk with 2:10 left, sending his teammates and the San Francisco crowd into a frenzy.
“We couldn’t be more excited when Wiggs dunked on someone,” Thompson said. “It really elevates the entire team and the Bay Area.”
In the first four games of the Finals, Curry averaged 34.3 points and shot over 53 percent from the field in Games 3 and 4 in Boston. He also made 25 3-pointers in those four games and made at least half of them in Games 1, 3 and 4.
He has been the most consistent part of Golden State’s offense. After Game 4, Thompson was surprised by Curry’s accomplishment and said he wanted to give him some help.
But on Monday, Green disagreed with what he called the emerging narrative that Curry wasn’t getting the help he needed in this series.
“If he’s successful, we’re going to be a big one for Stephen Curry,” Green said. “That’s it. The whole concept of this guy doesn’t, he doesn’t help, well, you’re 43, he’s going to keep shooting, and we’re going to do everything we can to get him to shoot.”
He went on to say a few words in this way before smiling.
“He went 0-for-9 from the field,” Green said. “Going into Game 6, he’s going to be pissed. That’s what we need.”
Curry said he expected his shooting percentage to “bounce” inevitably.
When they’re at their best, the Warriors can hit you wave after wave. Stop one and the other will come to you.
To a certain extent it has always been so. In the first round of their dynasty, when they played at Oracle Arena in Oakland, they had to go up against Curry, Green, Thompson and Andre Iguodala, then Kevin Durant.
On Monday night, they indicated that was still the case.