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2022 NBA Finals: Warriors supporting cast turnaround storyline, carries Stephen Curry in Game 5 win over Celtics

2022 NBA Finals: Warriors supporting cast turnaround storyline, carries Stephen Curry in Game 5 win over Celtics

SAN FRANCISCO – If a fortune teller told you that Stephen Curry would make history in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, you’d probably guess the Golden State Warriors would pick up a win. After all, Curry was coming off a stunning 43-point, 10-rebound effort in Game 4 that put him in the prestigious point guard company of legends Magic Johnson and Jerry West. The possibilities, it seemed, were endless.

You’ll then curse the sleazy fortune teller with all your heart when you realize the story Curry made was of an ignominious variety. The greatest shooter of all time went 0-9 on 3-pointers on Monday night, marking the first time in 132 consecutive playoff games — 233 consecutive games, including the regular season — that he failed to make a single 3- needle. Curry finished with 16 points, nearly 20 below his average in the first four games of the Finals.

And yet this Warriors team, which had found virtually no offense outside of Curry in the Finals, worked, hustled and fought their way to a 104-94 win over the Boston Celtics to take a 3-2 lead and come within just one win of the franchise’s fourth NBA title in eight seasons.

Watching the Warriors on Monday was like watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air after replacing Aunt Viv with another actress. You know, it’s the same show, but it’s just different from what you’re used to.

All the talk going into Game 5 was about how hard Curry carried the Warriors. It was the subject of talking head shows, a topic during Sunday’s media availability, and fodder for hilarity from NBA social media legend King Josiah.

In Game 5 on Monday, however, the rest of the Warriors did more than carry their own weight. They also carried Curry.

“I think we’ve got a really good group, a group of smart individuals. Really high game IQ, and we’re just trying to make it simple for every one of us, every teammate,” the Warriors guard said. Gary Payton II after winning it. “Really, it’s everyone just being themselves and being selfless and trying to make plays for themselves, but again, they’re making plays for their teammates by doing that.”

The supporting cast begins with Andrew Wiggins, who for the second game in a row looked like the second-best player on Golden State’s roster — possibly the second-best player in the series. He had 26 points, 13 rebounds, two steals and a block in a monstrous 43 minutes, once again taking responsibility for guarding Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Wiggins was all over the floor and scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the fourth quarter, closing things out with an emphatic dunk that ended any faint hopes of a late Celtics comeback.

“We don’t get more excited than when Wiggs dunks on somebody and attacks them mean,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said after the game. “And that really elevates the whole team and the Bay Area.”

Wiggins wasn’t the only one working while Curry struggled. Thompson had 21 of 5 for 11 3-pointers, another in a string of clutch performances with the Warriors’ playoff lives hanging in the balance. Draymond Green, much maligned over the past two weeks, had eight points – nearly half his total in the first four games of the series combined – to go along with eight rebounds and six assists, setting the tone from the first tip . with its energy and pressure at both ends of the ground.

With Kevon Looney limited to 17 minutes due to early foul issues, Warriors coach Steve Kerr went to smaller lineups which allowed Payton to flourish. He showcased his unique combination of elite perimeter defense and inside scoring en route to 15 points, five rebounds and three steals on 6-for-8 shooting.

“This guy is a workaholic. He’s unbelievable,” Kerr said of Payton after the Game 5 win. “Incredible athlete, great defensive player. He has really good instincts, and obviously super competitive. … He’s come a long way, and now he has the chance to shine in the final, so that’s great.”

In terms of momentum, perhaps no player was more important to the Warriors victory than Jordan Poole. The 22-year-old had its ups and downs on his first run in the playoffs, but came to the rescue at the end of a third quarter in which the Celtics reversed a 12-point deficit at halftime into a five-point lead. With the buzzer ready to sound at the end of the period, Poole threw a 38-footer that hit the glass and cashed in. It was his second long buzzer-beater in the series, and it gave the Warriors a lead they wouldn’t. to renouncer.

“It was a crucial part of the game, for us to respond to that,” Kerr said. “Jordan hit some big shots late in the third and then had a good streak to start the fourth as well. But the response to Boston’s run on me was key to the game.”

The Warriors supporting cast stepping up in a huge moment is no accident. Kerr has always made a point of bringing the last man to the bench for a handful of minutes every few games, knowing from his own experience as a role player that going too long without seeing the action of the game doesn’t only makes you rusty, but also leaves you feeling dissociated. of the team. In the past three seasons since Kevin Durant left the Warriors, critics have continually called for more Curry’s straight pick-and-roll. Even with what was at times a young, inexperienced and ill-suited roster, Kerr argued that his fluid, ball-movement-oriented attack breeds the most cohesion and therefore leads to the best results when it matters most.

“Man, there’s just a lot of great people here. Great people here who challenge you. They hold you accountable,” Wiggins said after the game. “The support system, everyone on this team, this organization, they support you and they want to see you do good, and they position you to do good.”

Kerr is still playing the long game, and it paid off in Game 5 amid his franchise player’s unusual struggles. The story says that Curry will bounce back powerfully in Thursday’s Game 6but the cast has proven they can win even if he doesn’t, and it’s a troubling development for Boston.

“The fact that everyone pulled together – Wiggs, JP, Klay hitting big shots, Draymond finding his life and his spirit and how he impacts the game,” Curry said. “We could bear to go 9 for 40 [on 3-pointers] as a team and I 0-for-9, and still come away with a win. Obviously the track record indicates that I will shoot the ball better the next game. Looking forward to this rebound.”

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