The 2022 NBA Finals is still waiting for one of the teams to win back-to-back games. Are the Warriors in position to finally make a breakthrough? Or will the Celtics continue the back-and-forth nature of the series?
It might seem like the Warriors are prepared to make a run to the title. Riding Stephen Curry's scintillating Game 4 performance, the Warriors reclaimed home-court advantage. And their experience could come in handy in the important Game 5. But the young Celtics have shown that they are nothing if not resilient.
All eyes will be on Curry. His lowest point production was his 29-point effort in the Game 2 win. He is averaging 34.2 points and is easily the MVP of this Finals. What will the Celtics' defense cook up to stop him?
USA TODAY Sports will have live updates and analysis all evening as Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Finals gets underway.
Andrew Wiggins lead the way for Warriors in Game 5
It’s usually one of the Splash Brothers who comes up big for the Warriors. This time, they played a supporting role.
Andrew Wiggins scored 26 points and had 12 rebounds to lead the Warriors to a 104-94 win over the Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Wiggins had played in just five playoff games in his seven-year career before arriving in San Francisco. No matter, he led the way for the Warriors in Game 5, with Splash Brothers Klay Thompson (21 points) and Stephen Curry (16 points) playing a supporting role.
It was the first time in the series that a team won consecutive games. The Warriors can close out the series and win their fourth NBA title in the past eight seasons with a victory in Game 6 on Friday in Boston.
The Warriors appeared to be letting the game slip away as the Celtics hit eight straight 3-point shots in the third quarter — they missed their first 12 3-pointers to start the game — to erase the Warriors’ one-time 16-point lead.
But the Warriors methodically worked their way back. Jordan Poole provided a big spark when he hit a shot from just past half-court at the buzzer that gave the Warriors a 75-74 lead entering the fourth quarter. Then the Warriors started the final quarter on a 7-0 roll to regain control.
Draymond Green fouls out, again
For the third time in five NBA Finals games, Draymond Green has fouled out. Green was called for a foul against Marcus Smart with 3:01 left in the fourth quarter. Steve Kerr used his only challenge of the game on the play, but the call was upheld. Smart hit both of his free throws to close in on the Warriors' lead, 84-95.
Green finished the night with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and on steal, his best game of the series so far.
Jay-Z, Blue Ivy Carter sit courtside
Jay-Z is back in the building. After attending Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Celtics, the music mogul returned to Chase Center for Game 5 with a special guest: His daughter, Blue Ivy Carter.
Other celebrity attendees include UFC President Dana White, business and talent executive Corey Gamble, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Mayor London Breed.
Marcus Smart called for a technical foul
Marcus Smart was hit with a technical foul with 9:16 to go in the fourth quarter after voicing his frustration to referees after he believed he was fouled while setting a screen. Jordan Poole nailed a technical free throw to put the Warriors up, 83-74. On the next possession, Smart was called for an offensive foul after jockeying for position with Poole on the inbound. Smart was upset by the call and instant replay showed that Poole exaggerated contact, but the Celtics did not challenge. Boston also got a delay of game violation. Poole hit a jump shot off the turnover to put the Warriors up 85-74.
Smart has 4 personal fouls.
Klay Thompson gets hot, then gets pulled; Jordan Poole hits buzzer-beater
Klay Thompson started to heat up in the third quarter. After Golden State missed 14 straight 3-pointers, Thompson hit one with 3:36 left in the third quarter to cut the Celtics lead to 66-64. On the next possession, he hit another 3: 68-67. But he found himself in foul trouble soon after, picking up his fourth personal on Marcus Smart. Steve Kerr took Thompson out of the game after with 1:38 in the quarter.
Jordan Poole picked up where Thompson left off, knocking down his second 3 of the night. Poole closed the third quarter with a buzz-beating 3 to give the Warriors the lead, 75-74.
The Warriors are lucky to be up after the third quarter. They were outscored 35-24.
The can't-miss Celtics
After missing their first 12 3-pointers to start the game, the Celtics are now in a can’t-miss mode.
They hit eight straight three midway through the third quarter, with Al Horford’s 3-pointer gave the Celtics a 58-55 lead after they once trailed by 16 points.
Will this game turn into a replay of Game 1, when the Celtics stormed back with a furious fourth-quarter rally that stunned the Warriors in Game 1 in San Francisco.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown nearly erase Warriors lead in two minutes
The third quarter has normally been the Warriors time to shine, but the Celtics opened the second half on a 10-0 run. Jaylen Brown came aggressive and managed to get to the free throw line two consecutive times to match his first quarter points (4). Jayson Tatum then knocked down two consecutive three pointers, to cut the Warriors lead to two with 10:17 seconds left in the third quarter.
The hot start continued. The Celtics took their first lead of the night with a 26-foot three point jumper from Al Horford. Horford's shot marked the Celtics eighth straight three pointer, after starting the game 0-for-12. The Celtics lead 58-55.
Warriors up by 12 at halftime; Boston's turnovers, missed free throws adding up
The Warriors came out more physical than the Celtics, Ime Udoka said after the first quarter, but Boston rebounded in the second quarter to cut Golden State’s lead to as close as seven points. The Warriors’ defense turned up, holding the Celtics to 39 points and forcing 9 turnovers that translated to 13 Warriors points. The Warriors are up 51-39.
The Celtics weren't able to get it going from behind the three point line, shooting 20.0% (3-for-15). Boston’s bench wasn't much help and only contributed one point. It doesn’t help that the Celtics are 4-for-9 from the free throw line. Jayson Tatum leads with 13 points, while Jaylen Brown was limited to four points on 2-for-10 from the field.
Andrew Wiggins has a game-high 16 points and 7 rebounds. He had 17 points in Game 4. Draymond Green has served as an X-factor Monday night with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and one steal following his earlier Finals struggles.
Steph Curry got off to a slow start in blanket coverage, but he ended the half with 10 points on 4-for-10 from the field and 0-for-3 from three.
Steph Curry has yet to heat up
The Celtics are making a determined effort not to let Steph Curry single-handedly beat them again.
Curry carried the Warriors on his back in Game 4, scoring 43 points that led to the Warriors’ vital Game 4 win. He entered Game 5 averaging 34.2 points.
One of the storylines was how the vaunted Celtics defense would respond. Very well, thank you.
Midway through the second quarter, Curry had just four points on 2-of-6 shooting. And to make matters worse, he badly missed a technical free throw with 0.2 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
HOW TO WATCH: Celtics vs. Warriors, NBA Finals Game 5: Live stream, TV channel
Ime Udoka gets last-second technical foul
Ime Udoka picked up a technical foul with 0.2 second left in the first quarter. Yes, you read that right. Udoka was furious with the referees after Robert Williams was called for a shooting foul against Andrew Wiggins right before the clock expired. Steph Curry badly missed the technical free throw and Andrew Wiggins made only 1 of 2 free throws to extend the Warriors lead 27-16 over the Celtics.
Jayson Tatum, Celtics get off to slow start; Andrew Wiggins hot
The Warriors have gotten off to sluggish starts in the NBA Finals so far, but that wasn’t the case during Game 5. The Warriors outscored the Celtics 27-16 in the first quarter.
Andrew Wiggins came out the gate aggressive and led the Warriors with seven points. Klay Thompson added five points, while Draymond Green and Steph Curry scored four points each. Kevon Looney is playing off the bench Monday, but he racked up three personal fouls in the first quarter. The Warriors are 52.4% (11-for-21) from the field and 22.2% (2-for-9) from 3-point range.
Celtics star Jayson Tatum was scoreless most of the first quarter. He didn’t even attempt a shot before he was uncharacteristically pulled for a breather by Ime Udoka with 4:48 minutes left in the first quarter. He re-entered the game with 2:38 left in the first quarter and proceeded to make three straight field goals for six points. Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams scored four points. As a whole, the Celtics shot 32% (8-for-25) from the field and 0-for-5 on 3s. To make matters worse, Boston had four turnovers, which converted to six Warriors points.
Draymond Green slams down dunk, gets gong offensively
Draymond Green got off to a better start in Game 5.
Despite getting benched in critical moments at the end of Game 4, Warriors coach Steve Kerr stuck by Green and gave him the start on Monday. His energy and effort instantly impacted the game. Green even pulled out his favorite fake handoff out of his bag. While beyond the three-point line, Green acted like he was going to pass the ball off the Klay Thompson before he drove into he line and knocked down a two-handed dunk that sent shockwaves through Chase Center. The dunk put Golden State up 12-4 with 7:28 in the first quarter.
Green is looking to improve from beyond the arc. He's 0-for-10 from three in the NBA Finals, going 0-for-1 from three tonight.
Otto Porter Jr. gets the start over Kevon Looney
Golden State coach Steve Kerr made a lineup change in Game 4, starting Otto Porter Jr., in place of Kevon Looney. Turns out, Looney had a more impactful performance off the bench with six points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal and the Warriors outscored Boston by 21 points with Looney on the court.
Kerr is sticking with his Game 4 starters: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Porter. Looney will come off the bench again.
“Size-wise I think Looney has been obviously solid, hurt us on the glass some games,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “The counter to that is we can get our bigs out sooner, bring them back when he comes in.”
Should Steph Curry win Finals MVP no matter which team wins?
Stephen Curry is having the best NBA Finals of his career. He will almost certainly win his first Finals MVP award if the Warriors prevail.
Should he win it even if the Celtics win? ESPN NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins thinks so. “I believe that Steph Curry should win Finals MVP regardless of the outcome! He has been the BEST player in the series and it’s not even close. The man is averaging 35!!!!,” Perkins said on Twitter.
Curry, who is averaging 34.2 points, has virtually no chance of winning the award if the Warriors lose. In the 2015 Finals in which the Warriors won in six games by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, there was much debate that LeBron James whether should win the award after becoming the first player in league history to lead both teams in points (35.8), rebounds (13.3) and assists (8.8).
Andre Iguodala, who averaged 16.3 points, 4.0 assists and 5.8 rebounds, received 7 of 11 total MVP votes in large part because of his defensive effort. James reportedly received the other four votes.
Jerry West of the L.A. Lakers remains the only player in league history to win MVP from a losing team. In 1969, West won the award when the Lakers lost to the Celtics. The final game went down to the wire and the voters turned in their picks before the final score. West scored 42 points, with 13 rebounds and 12 assists in Game 7.
Robert Williams ‘available' for Game 5
Robert Williams was listed as “available” on the Celtics' injury report following right knee soreness stemming from a surgery in late March. Williams has started all four games of the NBA Finals so far and has averaged 6.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks against the Warriors.
“To be honest, I don't even think about it anymore when I'm on the court,” Williams said Sunday. “Been playing almost the whole playoffs basically. Obviously, it's tough to deal with, but I don't really think about it on the court. I guess you could say my adrenaline is carrying me thankfully.”
Celtics coach Ime Udoka said he won't be on a minutes restriction.
Who are the X-factors for Game 5?
Boston's Al Horford
The Celtics don't necessarily need the kind of scoring production they got from Horford in Game 1, when he contributed 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Horford is an important piece of the Celtics' starting lineup and he pretty much disappeared in the fourth quarter when Game 4 was still up for grabs. You could certainly argue that he has disappeared in both the Celtics' losses in the Finals — he had two points on 1-for-4 shooting in Game 2 and was 2-for-6 with eight points in Game 4.
Golden State's Draymond Green
A lot has been written and said about Draymond Green in this series, and very little of it has been positive. The best that could be said about his Game 4 performance is that he made a couple of good defensive plays in the waning minutes that helped the Warriors preserve their slim lead. Of course, Green has played so poorly on the offensive end that Warriors coach Steve Kerr swapped him out for more offense. That's a testament to Green's 6-for-26 shooting in the Finals. Even his mother trolled him on Twitter.
DRAYMOND GREEN: Even his mom had Twitter jokes following another rough game
OPINION: Draymond Green is struggling in the NBA Finals but his podcasting has nothing to do with it
Adam Silver to miss Game 5 due to COVID protocols
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver canceled plans to attend Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics on Monday night because of the league’s health and safety protocols.
Silver typically attends all finals games.
The league did not say if Silver had tested positive for COVID-19 or been deemed a close contact of someone who had, nor released any details about his health.
Also unclear is when Silver will be able to resume attending games. Part of his role as commissioner involves handing out the league’s championship trophy, which one team will be awarded either Thursday in Boston or Sunday in San Francisco.
FULL STORY: NBA commissioner Adam Silver to miss Finals Game 5 due to COVID protocols
Game 5 could be pivotal in determining NBA champion
It's clear that the stakes couldn't be much higher for both the Warriors and Celtics entering Game 5 of the Finals. With the series tied at 2-2 and with no team able to win consecutive games, Game 5 could be pivotal in determining who wins the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
In fact, teams that win Game 5 historically have a big advantage. The previous 30 times the Finals have been tied 2-2, the team that wins Game 5 has gone on to win the series 73.3% of the time (22-8). That would include last season when the Milwaukee Bucks lost the first two games against the Phoenix Suns before winning four straight to close out the series
Why the league switched back to 2-2-1-1-1 format for Finals
As recently as 2013, Game 5 of the NBA Finals was played at the arena of the team that didn’t have home-court advantage as part of the 2-3-2 Finals format.
The league switched back to 2-2-1-1-1 format starting with the 2014 Finals.
“There has been,” then-NBA Commissioner David Stern said at the start of the 2013-14 season, “an abiding sense amongst our teams, and they've stated two things: One, in a 2-2 series, it's sort of not fair for the team with the better record to be away. And two, it's difficult for the team — the better team in terms of record to spend as many as eight days on the road away from home.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who was deputy commissioner then and three months from replacing Stern, supported the change then and still does today.
“We just feel it's better from a competitive standpoint,” Silver said at the start of Boston-Golden State series on June 2. “It always felt to me in all my years in the league before we switched back to this format that, first of all, the players are used to, on their bodies, the 2-2-1-1-1 format from the earlier rounds. And it just always felt that it was — even unsure where the unfairness lay — but the three in that second city just felt long and arduous.
“We have beautiful planes in this league. It's a long flight. Again, it's tough on everybody's bodies. It's tough on the media having to go back and forth across the country, but it feels like it's the right format.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who played in the 2-3-2 Finals format multiple times with the Chicago Bulls, prefers the current model.
“I like 2-2-1-1-1 better,” he said. “It's a more fair format. And given that we have a couple of days in between every game, other than 3 and 4, I think both teams will be able to handle the travel. But it seems like a more fair test. What I remember was anytime a team lost one of the first two at home during that era, it didn't seem right that you had to go on the road and play three straight road games. I think that's why the format was changed back.
“Ironically, though, that hardly ever happened where the home team won the middle three. So it was good for travel, but it feels like a more natural flow to go back to 2-2-1-1-1.”
— Jeff Zillgitt
A not so happy anniversary
Three years ago Monday to the date, the Golden State Warriors guard tore the ACL in his left knee against the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, the start of a stretch in which Thompson was sidelined for next 2½ seasons.
On Sunday, Thompson was asked to reflect on that moment and what it meant to be back in the Finals after all he had to go through. He conceded he had not pieced together that Monday was the anniversary of that knee injury.
“Well, there's a lot of emotions that day. We came real close to having another opportunity to three-peat, which hasn't been done since Shaq (O'Neal) and Kobe (Bryant),” Thompson began.
“When I hurt my knee, it was kind of unchartered territory for me because I had been able to be consistently present in the lineup my whole career. So I had to kind of realign my whole train of thought with the months coming up. I knew I had a lot of training ahead, and it was actually hard because I didn't really get a break. Usually, after such a long season, you get a nice summer break. I had to go straight into rehab, and it was a long cycle after that, a couple years.”
— Jeff Zillgitt
FULL STORY: Klay Thompson reflects on three-year anniversary of brutal NBA Finals injury
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Warriors-Celtics NBA Finals live updates: Andrew Wiggins lead Warriors