SAN FRANCISCO – Golden State had nearly ruined the entire third quarter on Monday night when Andrew Wiggins pushed the ball to Jordan Poole, a young guard with immense confidence. Just before time expired, Poole launched a three-pointer from 10 yards that hung off the glass before rattling through the hoop.
The swell was a buzz of life for Golden State in Game 5 of the NBA Finals — and for the team’s bony fans, who rode waves of highs and lows before the Warriors pulled back for a 104–94 win they held on to. the eve of another championship.
Golden State, which took a 3-2 lead in the series, can claim its fourth title in eight seasons, and its first since 2018, when the team heads out Thursday night to face Boston in Game 6 on Thursday night.
Wiggins led Golden State with 26 points, and Klay Thompson added 21. Jayson Tatum had 27 points in the game for the Celtics in the loss.
After a solid start, Golden State led 12, but four free throws from Jaylen Brown and back-to-back 3-pointers from Tatum gave the Celtics the first 10 points of the second half, a surprising twist given the famously heart-pounding third quarter. The Celtics soon took the lead when Marcus Smart and Al Horford scored on their own three-pointers in a row, part of a 19-4 run.
Golden State missed the first eight 3-point attempts of the second half before Thompson finally made a pair, a much-needed boost for Golden State — and for Thompson, who had had his fair share of struggles in the series.
After Poole interrupted the third quarter with his deep three-pointer, a shot that sent the Chase Center home crowd into a state of near delirium, his teammates seemed to be riding that peak of emotion. By the time Thompson lost Smart to make another three-pointer, Golden State was back up 8 points.
After scoring 43 points in the Golden State’s Game 4 win, Stephen Curry had a muted effort in Game 5, finishing with just 16 points and shooting 0 of 9 from a 3-point range. But his teammates delivered. Golden State seemed locked in from the start, passing the ball back and forth, corner to corner, constantly looking for the best shot possible. Not that the team was always able to connect, as in the first half, 3 out of 17 fired from a 3-point range.
Still, Golden State advanced a whopping 16 late in the first quarter before Boston started chipping while Curry rested on the bench. Smart sank a 10 foot jumper. Robert Williams made his way in for a layup.
Golden State was recalibrated when Curry secured a 51-39 lead at halftime with an up-and-under layup.
In the first half, Golden State was supported by Wiggins, who had 16 points and 7 rebounds, and Draymond Green, who collected one of his more assertive pieces from the final. In the first four games of the series, he scored a total of 17 points. By halftime of Game 5, he had 8 points and was flying across the field.
Tatum, after working his shot through much of the series, did what he could to keep the Celtics close, racking up 13 points and 8 rebounds in the first half.
Before the game, Celtics Coach Ime Udoka expressed concern that Tatum was chasing fouls rather than taking good shots. Udoka wanted him to be “physical” on his rides.
“Often he floats, goes off one leg, if he can plant and take two off, he ends up a little stronger,” Udoka said, adding: “We just tell him to be decisive. He’s got it.” been doing it all year, seen every report and for the most part ripped it apart a bit.”
For Golden State Coach Steve Kerr, Monday marked the 25th anniversary of a poignant moment in his playing career. It was Kerr’s jump shot in Game 6 of the 1997 Finals winning another championship for the Chicago Bulls — their fifth of the Michael Jordan era — against the Utah Jazz.
“Something every young basketball player dreams of,” he said, adding: “The finals are the finals whether you play or coach. It’s the ultimate competition in the basketball world.”