NBA Finals Game 5 Recap and Analysis: Home Sweet Home


Game 5s of the NBA Playoffs are considered as one of the most critical games in a series, especially when a series is tied 2-2. According to NBC Sports, the NBA Finals have been tied 2-2  30 times (not including this year), and in those instances, 73.3% of the teams that won Game 5 ended up winning the NBA Finals. Knowing the importance of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors came out the gates with high intensity and tenacity on defense and offense. On defense, the Warriors communicated effectively, forcing multiple bad passes and turnovers by the Celtics. The interior defense of the Warriors was also stifling to start off the game, giving the Celtics no easy points. On the offensive end, the Warriors went with lots of pick-and-roll, and since so much attention is placed upon Steph Curry, the role players got open and started the game great. It is a fact that at home, all the role players automatically play better, and Draymond Green is surely happy to be back home. He finally started to play well, being physical, setting the pace for the offense, but most importantly, making himself a factor as a scorer. The Warriors quickly jumped to a 17-8 start, and while every single Warriors starter had a bucket, the Celtics combined shot a measly 4-15. At this point in the game, which is around the 4-minute mark, both teams' stars were not playing well whatsoever, as Steph only took 2 shots and made one of them, while Tatum did not even take a shot at all. However, the difference was that the role players for the Warriors were playing fantastic, while the role players for the Celtics were not playing well. By the end of the first quarter, the Warriors led 27-16. 

Everyone knew that Jayson Tatum was not going to be cold for much longer, and once the second quarter came around, he picked up his intensity and scored a few quick buckets, giving the Celtics some life, while the Warriors' offense became kind of stagnant. Instead of taking outside jumpers, the Celtics started to drive and go to the paint a lot more, and as a result, they scored a bit more efficiently. In particular, players such as Marcus Smart kept scoring on Nemanja Bjelica in the paint, which was why Bjelica only got 3 minutes of clock. While the Celtics' outside jumpers, particularly their three-pointers, were not falling, the Warriors' three-pointers were not falling as well. The Celtics did not even make a three until the 4:30 mark of the second quarter, and prior to that, they shot 0-12 from three, which is historically awful. Even the free throws for Boston were not falling, as they shot under 50% from the line in the first half. For the Warriors, they also had terrible shooting splits, particularly from their Splash Brothers, who shot a combined 1-8 from three in the first half. However, though Steph started off the game extremely slow, he started to pick up his slack near the end of the first half, scoring through floaters, crafty finishes, and midrange jumpers. Andrew Wiggins also deserves a lot of credit for helping the Warriors maintain their lead despite shooting disgustingly poor from three in the first half, as he again was tenacious on the boards and putbacks, while also finishing around the paint effectively. Overall, the second-quarter offenses for both teams were not great, and the Warriors only scored 19 points while the Celtics only scored 15 points. The score before the half was 51-39, Celtics. 

The third quarter had historically been the Warriors' quarter, but in Game 5, that was further from the truth. Right out of the gate, Boston played intense defense, forcing bad passes and shot-clock violations. With Boston forcing the Warriors to turn the ball over, the Celtics got lots of transition bucket opportunities, and they were on a 10-0 run to start off the third quarter. Tatum continued to have a stellar night after a slow start to the game, though Jaylen Brown was clearly getting contained by the Warriors, in large part due to Draymond Green. Actually, everyone on the Celtics except Tatum was getting contained. Also, despite the disgusting three-point shooting percentages from both teams in the first half, the Celtics' threes started dropping like crazy, while the Warriors' threes were still not falling. Boston shot 5-5 from three halfway into the third quarter, with Jayson Tatum making 3 of them, and the Celtics were on a 19-4 run, and the score was 58-55, Boston. Steph Curry continued to have an overall off-day, but he was not selfish and was passing the ball flawlessly, helping out the other players on the team. Klay Thompson started to shoot better as he made a few jumpers and threes in the third. In the second half of the third quarter, the Warriors were clearly treating the Boston three-point jump shots with more respect, so the Warriors were seemingly jumping for every pump fake the Celtics threw at them, causing Boston to have a lot of paint points as well. However, Boston did not take nor make as many threes as they did in the first half of the third quarter, allowing the Warriors to keep the game in close contact. Despite Boston essentially dominating the entire third quarter, the Warriors somehow still had the lead as a result of Jordan Poole's miraculous buzzer-beating three, which put the Warriors up 75-74 as the third quarter ended. That was the second time Poole hit a long-range buzzer-beating three in the finals.

The Celtics, both in the regular season and playoffs, have always had a tendency to flop or choke in the fourth quarter, especially when it is clutch time and the game is close. Game 5 was no different. While the Celtics started the third quarter with a 10-0 run, the Warriors started the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run. It seemed like Poole's buzzer-beating three reenergized the Warriors, but it also sucked the soul out of the Boston Celtics. They seemed out of sorts in the fourth quarter, especially Marcus Smart, who had a technical foul, a turnover, and an offensive foul all in the span of 2-3 minutes. Steph continued to struggle in the fourth quarter, but the role players continued to play amazingly, both on defense and offense. Despite a third quarter where the Celtics shot the ball lights out, they shot the ball in the fourth quarter like they were in the first half, air balling, missing open threes, and even missing multiple free throw opportunities. Everything seemed to go wrong on both ends for the Celtics, and eventually, the collective, well-balanced scoring of the Warriors helped them win this crucial Game 5, 104-94. 

The Celtics' defensive game plan was clear from the jump: stop playing drop coverage on the screens for Steph, and limit Steph as much as possible, especially with his threes that have been killing them. Credit must be given to the Celtics for perfecting that defensive gameplan, as Steph only had 16 points on 7-22 shooting and 0-9 from three. However, since they paid so much defensive attention to Steph, the role players for the Warriors had fantastic performances. It does not hurt that they are also playing in front of their home crowd. Gary Payton II had 15 points on 75% shooting, Jordan Poole had 14 points in just 14 minutes, Klay Thompson had 21 points on 50% shooting, and Draymond Green had 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, a classic Draymond Green-type game. However, the clear star of the game was Andrew Wiggins, who had 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 steals while shooting 52.2% and playing a team-high 42 minutes. Credit has to be given to Steph as well, as he understood that he was having a poor game, so he decided to be more of a distributor to help out his team, dishing out a game-high 8 assists. Despite the well-balanced scoring of the Warriors, Boston also committed some fatal errors that led them to their own demise. The first thing was their terrible free-throw percentage. They shot 67.7% from the line, which is probably worse than 80% of America's high school varsity teams. They missed 10 free throws. Boston also committed 18 turnovers compared to the Warriors' 6, and as a result, Boston only had 9 points off turnovers, while the Warriors had 22. The magic number for the Celtics seems to be 16, where if they commit more than 16 turnovers in a game in the playoffs, they only have 1 win compared to 7 losses, but if they commit less than 16 turnovers, they have a playoff record of 13-2. The Warriors' role players played absolutely fantastic in Game 5, but Boston certainly brought some things upon themselves that led to their Game 5 loss. The only bad thing that happened for the Warriors tonight was that Steph Curry lost his streak of games with at least 1 three made.

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