Thanks to the play of Andrew Wiggins, the Golden State Warriors are one game away from an NBA title after defeating the Boston Celtics 104-94 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Chase Center on Monday night.
Golden State leads the series 3-2 and can close it out in Game 6 at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday night.
Wiggins scored a team-high 26 points to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds; this is Wiggins’ second consecutive double-double as he had 17 points and 16 rebounds in Game 4.
Golden State led 75-74 heading into the fourth, and they went on a 14-4 run to take an 89-78 lead after a Wiggins driving hook shot at the 5:38 mark; the eight-year veteran capped his performance with a driving dunk over Derrick White late in the game.
Wiggins finished the fourth with 10 points(5/6 FG), five rebounds, and he was +15.
With Steph Curry’s struggles from the field(7/22 FG), including 0/9 from deep, Wiggins had to pick up the slack. According to him, carrying the load in the Finals is a dream come true.
“It’s something I dreamt about for sure, being in the league, and this is the ultimate stage,” he said. “It doesn’t get bigger than this. I was out there being aggressive. It was a good game.”
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr added on Wiggins: “He’s just been fantastic, not just in this series but throughout the playoffs.”
In this series, Wiggins is averaging 18.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game and has done it on both ends of the court. According to StatMuse, he leads the Finals with 101 contested shots. Also, he is doing a good job on Jayson Tatum, who is shooting 5-21 (23.8%) in the fourth in this series.
Defense is all about energy and effort, and Wiggins has brought that throughout this series.
“He’s embraced the challenge of consistency and what he’s capable of doing on both ends of the floor.,” Curry said. “The fact that there’s opportunity for him to do what he’s doing because of the way that we play and because of the way that we’ve embraced him from day one. Try to paint a picture of what his skill set can do for us to reach the highest level. Bottom line is he’s just having fun playing basketball.
“That’s the biggest thing. Everything he’s been through in his career. All the talk about him as the No. 1 guy, No. 2 guy, No. 1 pick, all that type of stuff, I’m sure he’s enjoying this more than anything else he’s experienced in this league. That’s kind of what it’s all about.”
In 2020, Wiggins was traded from the Timberwolves to the Warriors. Draymond Green, who had eight points, eight rebounds, and six assists in Game 5, said Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, who coached Wiggins in Minnesota, gave him the stamp of approval.
“When he first came here, and I’ll never forget, it was when Thibs [Tom Thibodeau] wasn’t with the Knicks, and Thibs was like, you’re going to love him,” Green said.
“He competes. He defends. And he was telling us Jimmy loved him. And we all know how Jimmy Butler is. If you have any softness to you, Jimmy don’t like you. That’s how Jimmy is cut. He’s continued to show that. He’s continued to get better. He’s taken on every challenge that we have thrown in front of him. And that’s been huge. And we need him to do that for one more win.”
Golden State still has to get one more, and that one more won’t be easy. Boston is a tough, resilient bunch, and they won’t fold very easily. Initially, we had the Warriors in 7, and we’re sticking to that.
Curry streak of a 233 games(regular season and postseason) with at least one made three was snapped Monday night. This is the first time in his career that he did not make a three in a postseason game.