The daily preview takes it to the rim with NBA tips for Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals between Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics.
11:00 (AEST), Fri 17th Jun @ TD Garden, Boston
History: Played 374: Celtics 226 V Warriors 148
Last meeting: June 11, 2022: Warriors 104 d Celtics 94 at Chase Center
Final Thoughts: Golden State Warriors get the first opportunity to snare the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy after taking their first lead of the Finals against Boston Celtics in Game 5.
All five games so far have been decided by 10 points or more – but there’s been no shortage of drama and remarkable comebacks.
Steph Curry, overshadowed by Andre Iguodola and Kevin Durant in the Warriors’ previous NBA Finals triumphs, has been Golden State’s leading light. He averaged 34.3 points across the first four games and exploded for 43 points to inspire a vital Game 4 victory in Boston. Meanwhile, Celtics spearhead Jayson Tatum has struggled offensively. He was held to a dismal shooting percentage of 34.1 across the first four games.
Despite a Game 5 divergence from both superstars, the Warriors carved out a 104-94 victory. Curry had just 16 points after shooting 7-of-22 from the floor (0-of-9 3PM) and as a team they went an uncharacteristically dismal 9-of-40 from three-point range. But a confident, gritty Andrew Wiggins (26 pts, 13 reb) stepped up big time and Klay Thompson (21 pts) hit five threes. Jordan Poole’s three-point dagger on the three-quarter time buzzer gave the Warriors the lead after an impressive fight-back from a 10-point halftime deficit. Poole and Gary Payton II combined for 29 points off the bench.
Tatum (27 pts, 10 reb, 10-of-20 FGM, 5-of-9 3PM) found more of a groove offensively for Boston. Marcus Smart (20 pts) provided solid back-up, but Jaylen Brown (18 pts, 9 reb) struggled with 5-of-18 shooting (0-of-5 3PM). The Celtics shot just 41.3 percent from the floor overall.
The series so far
The Celtics took the Warriors on at their own game in the series opener and won, with a stunning three-point shooting display – and a freakish fourth-quarter rally – underpinning a widely unexpected 120-108 result in San Francisco.
Boston had no answer to another third-quarter surge from Golden State in Game 2, however. The margin at halftime was again two points before the Warriors exploded with a 35-14 third term and, ultimately, securing a 107-88 victory.
The Celtics stormed out of the blocks in Game 3 as the series moved to Boston, leading by as many as 18 points. Yet again the Warriors rallied in the third quarter, however, briefly taking the lead. But the Celtics regrouped to lead by four heading into the final term, where they outscored the Warriors 23-11 for a 116-100 victory. Brown (27 pts, 9 reb, 5 ast), Tatum (26 pts, 6 reb, 9 ast) and Smart (24 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast) fired in unison to become the first trio of teammates to top 20 points and 5 assists in and NBA Finals game since 1984.
The Warriors were under the pump at 2-1 down and five points behind at halftime of Game 4 in Boston, but Curry led them to a 107-97 win with a dominant second half. Curry (43 pts, 10 reb) shot seven three-pointers in a stunning exhibition, while Wiggins (17 pts, 16 reb) was a strong contributor.
Celtics favoured to snap Game 6 trend
The Celtics will start a do-or-die Game 6 assignment as warm $1.59 favourites at home to force a decider.
The Celtics are 34-18 at home this season (23-27-2 ATS) but just 6-5 in the playoffs. The Warriors are a modest 26-24 on the road (21-27-2 ATS), going 4-5 away in this post-season.
Just one of the last eight (and only four of the last 27) NBA Finals have gone to seven games. The last three Championships have been sealed in Game 6; the Raptors (2019) got it done on the road against the Warriors, the Lakers (2020) finished off the Heat in the Orlando bubble and the Bucks (2021) doused the Suns at home.
The seesawing nature of this series arguably deserves a Game 7 finale, but the momentum the Warriors have garnered with back-to-back 10-point wins could be telling – particularly after big contributions from Wiggins and Thompson in Game 6. Meanwhile, Curry will be hell-bent on responded to his off night with a five-star display.
But the Celtics are a gutsy, physical team and will lift at TD Garden in a must-win clash. They can build off Tatum’s return to form and boast a wider range of threats. However, given their Finals experience and the presence of Curry, I have to give the edge to the Warriors with a start.