Throughout the playoffs, the Celtics took the hits. They overcame the injuries. They lost games. They walked to the edge and looked over the edge the offseason, and each time they managed to back up and keep going.
In Game 5 on Monday, the Warriors hit the Celtics with a tedder. For the first time in the playoffs, an opponent landed hits against the Celtics — they were 7-0 after a previous loss. Steph Curry didn’t shoot well. The Celtics roared from a 16-point deficit and took the lead in the third quarter. And yet, the Warriors won by double digits, once again sending both teams’ starters to the bench in the final minutes.
The Celtics are not finished. They’ve earned the benefit of the doubt with their resilience over the past few months. They’ve been the best team in all series — including this one — when not turning the ball over, and they finished with 18 on Monday.
But Game 5 was a little different when the Celtics fell apart. An exhausted Jayson Tatum threw airballs in the fourth quarter. Jaylen Brown looked bottled up at the worst possible time.
If the Celtics force a Game 7, it will take unprecedented willpower.
2. Andrew Wiggins had a phenomenal performance with 26 points and 13 rebounds on 13-for-23 shooting. His biggest basket of the game may have been his last – a exclamation point dunk which pushed the Warriors lead to 15 with two minutes remaining.
Steph Curry is, of course, the MVP if the Warriors win the series. Andrew Wiggins, however, was perhaps the Warriors’ second-best player.
3. Celtics stars could (should) kick each other until Game 6 for their struggles – Tatum scored 27 points and shot effectively but turned the ball over four times and missed plenty of shots in the stretch , while Marcus Smart finished with four turnovers.
But no one has struggled more than Jaylen Brown, who scored 18 points but shot 5-for-18 and returned it five times.
If there’s any good news for the Celtics after Game 5, it’s how different the game could have been had one of their stars played to their potential.
4. Just as the Warriors couldn’t take advantage of Tatum’s poor shot in Game 1, the Celtics couldn’t take advantage of Curry’s slow night (7 for 22, 0 for 9 from 3-pointers). Like Tatum, Curry got his teammates involved and opened the game up for everyone with his passing.
The Celtics have won games against the Warriors when Curry leaves, but – again – Monday’s game was a missed opportunity.
5. On a night when the Celtics got to the free throw line 31 times — more than twice as many as the Warriors — they drove in just 21 points. The Celtics had plenty of other issues, but missing free throws is an easy way to put yourself in a hole and deflate your offense.
We will have more takeout later in the evening.
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