2022 NBA Finals Game 5 Recap

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This closely-matched battle of titans featured another memorable clash in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors bested the Boston Celtics 104-94 after many momentum swings. The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates, as both teams emptied their benches. The outcome moves the Warriors one win away from the Larry O’Brien trophy.

2022 NBA Finals Game 5 Recap

NBA Finals Game 5 Recap

Game 5 of the NBA Finals started with the Warriors bombarding the Celtics with a 17-6 run. The home team locked up the guys in green with stifling defense, and Boston contributed by committing some baffling turnovers. Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry overcame poor three-point shooting by the team to lead the offense. Draymond Green maneuvered around Robert Williams for multiple at-rim finishes, and Klay Thompson led a strong defensive effort against Jaylen Brown’s rim attacks.

Boston had their own shooting struggles in the first half, but those dissolved completely in the third quarter. Jayson Tatum, the one Celtic scoring well, erupted as the Celtics started the quarter with a 10-0 run. Boston trimmed a 12-point deficit to just one as they stole the third-quarter mysticism the Warriors possessed in every other game this series. The Warriors rode the vibes from Jordan Poole’s banked-in three to end the third by going on a 10-0 run of their own to start the fourth. Boston could never seriously threaten the Warriors after that point.

This game was the inverse of Game 3, where Golden State clawed back into the game with a big third quarter. The Warriors didn’t seem to have the energy to complete the comeback then, and Boston looked tired late tonight. Boston changed their defensive strategy to commit two defenders to Curry more often. The non-Curry Warriors burned the strategy in the first half and the fourth quarter, especially Wiggins.

NBA Finals Game 5 G.O.A.T.

Andrew Wiggins was the Greatest Player of All Time (of NBA Finals Game 5). After being named the runner-up for this prestigious award in Game 4, Wiggins grabbed it by simply playing the best basketball game he’s ever played. He finished with 26 points on 23 shots, and shrugged off missing all six of his threes by dashing to the basket and cashing a variety of swooping layups. Wiggins worked for midrange jumpers off the dribble and found the range on a spinning hook shot he hit multiple times after driving on Williams.

Curry came back to earth from his otherworldly start to the Finals and missed all nine of his threes. He did damage in the paint, however, and saw four teammates reach double figures to go with his 16 points. Thompson was steady on both ends tonight, and Gary Payton II added a surprising 15 points while being a perfect 5-5 from two.  

NBA Finals Game 5 Goat

Jaylen Brown has arguably been the best Boston Celtic in this series. Heading into tonight, Brown had exceeded 20 points in three out of four games. His fierce drives and pinpoint passes led the Celtics’ fourth-quarter comeback in Game 1. He matched steady production with explosive on-court impact, but that impact waned considerably in Game 5. Brown finished just 5 for 18 from the field and committed 5 turnovers. He generally looked out-of-sorts as Green and Thompson matched his physicality and moved their feet well to keep him away from the rim.

Boston desperately needed Brown’s production; Marcus Smart had 20 to aid Tatum’s 27-point effort, but it wasn’t enough to keep the game competitive. Brown also lost the ball while dribbling twice in a row midway through the fourth quarter to kill their comeback hopes; Boston had 18 as a team.

Looking ahead to NBA Finals Game 6

Frankly, there aren’t too many adjustments readily apparent for either coach. That’s typical once a playoff series reaches this point. Steve Kerr’s decision to start Otto Porter Jr. has been a mixed bag; the Warriors started well this game, but the Celtics were able to gain an advantage on the glass in Game 4. Still, it seems likely this move stays as Golden State has more room to drive on offense when Green and Kevon Looney aren’t on the floor together.

Boston is limited by Williams’ health issues, but they need him on the floor as much as possible. He contests every Warriors rim attempt; even the über-athletic Wiggins hasn’t found a way to consistently finish against “Time Lord.” Moreover, Curry has found tremendous success attacking Al Horford and Robert Williams in this series. Boston has personnel to execute a wider variety of strategies on Curry than they’ve tried thus far. Could mimicking Toronto’s box-and-one from the 2019 Finals allow them to shut Curry’s water off and scramble out to defend the other Warriors?

It’s fair to wonder if Boston should be even more intent on firing threes. Game 5 featured the Celtics’ fewest attempts (32) and percentage (11 for 32, 34.4%) in this series. Every Boston offensive possession without Robert Williams should feature all 5 Celtics standing outside the arc. Smart posting up against Curry and Poole hasn’t produced points consistently, and Tatum isolations in the midrange usually end in Tatum midrange jumpers. The goal of every Celtics play should be to drive (even multiple drives if possible) and kick to an open three-point shooter. The Warriors send multiple help defenders to the paint in their defensive scheme and Boston needs to get those defenders to think more and not allow them to react instinctively.