The Golden State Warriors also know how to win without the inspiration of Stephen Curry. It happened this Monday night in San Francisco, during the fifth game of the NBA final. The local star did not emit as much light as usual, but it did not matter: an unexpected Andrew Wiggins appeared to solve the problem. He was sensational: with 26 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block, he led his team to win the match (104-94) and tie the tie (3-2). The next chapter in this story will be written Thursday in Boston.
Before the matter was resolved, the Celtics played the Warriors during the third quarter. They trailed for the entire first half, but in that time they managed to neutralize Curry, shine on their star, Jayson Tatum, and give the scoreboard and their winning prospects a 17-point romp. They went into the final break trailing by one, thanks to a 3-pointer from the next room by the Warriors’ Jordan Poole literally at the buzzer.
Wiggins had not yet said his last word: he would later be decisive in the neutralization of the visiting team at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It took less than four minutes for the Warriors to move up 11 again. And there was no turning back.
Except during the mirage of the third quarter, the San Francisco had things clear from the beginning, and came out determined to win. They were playing at home, and there was no doubt about that either, thanks to the noisy crowd that packed the new Chase Center, demanding over and over again that their team defend. They did what they were asked.
With nine minutes left in the first quarter, they built up a 16-point lead, thanks to the brilliant interventions of Wiggings, who scored 16 for the Warriors in the first half, a record in his performance in the playoffs, and Draymod Green, who finally found a comfort that he did not find in the first four games. The Warriors finished those opening 12 minutes 11 up, and, despite the fact that the Celtics improved somewhat in the second, both went to halftime with a comfortable result for the locals (51-39).
Curry finished with only 16 points. And that was a novelty: until this Monday he had been the top scorer in the previous four games, with 34, 29, 31 and 43 points respectively. Things went a little better for Klay Thompson (21 points), another key player in the Warriors’ victory.
Celtics star Tatum redeemed himself somewhat; he finished, with 27 points, as the match’s top scorer. And that he came to San Francisco with the worst field goal percentage (34%) in the first four games of an NBA Finals since Patrick Ewing (33%), of the New York Knicks, in 1984.
On Thursday in Boston the tie could be resolved in favor of the Warriors. The only thing clear at the moment is that the Celtics fans, who are filling their stadium in the first final that their team plays in 12 years, will not have the opportunity to celebrate the victory at home, if it were to come, of course. If the long-awaited victory happens, it would be in the seventh, on Sunday in San Francisco, and it would be the tiebreaker in the ring locker (17) with the Los Angeles Lakers. They would get what they want most: the last word in the mother of all NBA rivalries in a season as marked as this one, which marks the 75th anniversary of the competition.
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