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The Celtics have arrested Stephen Curry.  Everyone else made them pay.


SAN FRANCISCO — In a sparkling arena seeing its first NBA Finals, fans stood and cheered as the final minute of the game approached, perhaps the last home sendoff they could give before Golden State does come back as champions.

Stephen Curry sat on the bench for the final 1 minute 19 seconds of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, smiling broadly, chatting happily with someone nearby.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been happier after a night of zero for anything,” Curry said later. He added: “Yes, there is a fire burning and I want to take shots, but the rest is about how we win the game. And we did.

Relying on Curry for the first four games of this series against the Boston Celtics, Golden State has shown its ability to succeed even when its shooting doesn’t work. Monday was the first playoff game of Curry’s career in which he didn’t make at least one 3-pointer. It was also a 104-94 victory that gave Golden State a 3-2 lead in the Finals and a chance to win a championship in Boston on Thursday.

The Celtics went all out to slow Curry down after he scored 43 points to beat them in Game 4 on Friday. So in game 5 everyone made them pay.

“The fact that everyone pulled together – Wiggs, JP, Klay hitting big shots, Draymond finding his life and his spirit and how he impacts the game,” Curry said.

Wiggs is Andrew Wiggins, who was once called a bust when some thought he couldn’t deliver on his promise to be the No. 1 draft pick. He scored 26 points for Golden State with 13 rebounds and 2 steals. He had a block in the first quarter when he knocked the ball away from Celtics guard Jaylen Brown.

JP is Jordan Poole, who scored 14 points and cashed in a 3 point as the third quarter clock expired, he ran to the corner nearest to him and roared into the crowd. That basket gave Golden State a 1-point lead after an otherwise disastrous quarter.

Thompson, Curry’s 3-point shooting partner, was inconsistent in the Finals but made five 3s in Game 5 and scored 21 points.

Draymond Green had a game that Golden State coach Steve Kerr called “brilliant” after his struggles early in the series led some to wonder if his activities outside of basketball were distracting him. .

Gary Payton II, the 29-year-old journeyman, scored 15 points for Golden State, making 6 of 8 shots.

“Gary plays bigger than any other 6’2″ NBA player I’ve ever seen,” Thompson said. “His green and his ability to slide past the ball, obviously we know where that comes from. : of his pops. But his green is something special, and his improved jump shot was also a huge weapon for us.

Curry knew the Celtics weren’t going to let him get away with what he did to them again in Boston. Between Games 4 and 5, he watched a movie with a dual purpose: he wanted to see what worked so he could try to replicate it. He wanted to anticipate potential tweaks Boston would use to thwart him.

The Celtics made adjustments and felt good about how they defended Curry in Game 5.

“A little more physical there,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “I changed the cover a bit. But we have to do it on others.

Talking about how Curry’s teammates made up for his shooting struggles, Curry and Udoka focused on their offensive production. But what mattered most to Golden State was their defense.

They held the Celtics to just 94 points and scored 22 of Boston’s 18 turnovers. Payton caught three steals, Thompson had two, and Green and Curry each had one.

The only quarter in which the Celtics looked better was the third, when they made 6 of 9 3-point attempts, 11 of 19 total shots and turned a 16-point deficit into a 5-point lead with 3:55 left. to do. period.

“They pretty much dominated the whole third quarter,” Green said. “For us to continue going into the fourth quarter with the lead is huge. And I think that was something we could build on, and we did.

As Golden State regained control of the game, a sense of joy could be felt throughout the team.

When Celtics forward Jayson Tatum knocked Payton down with just under four minutes left in the game, Payton put his palms on the ground and started doing push-ups. With 2:10 left in the game, Wiggins passed Boston’s Derrick White for a one-handed dunk that sent his teammates and the San Francisco crowd into a frenzy.

“We don’t get more excited than when Wiggs dunks on somebody,” Thompson said. “And that really elevates the whole team and the Bay Area.”

In the first four games of the Finals, Curry averaged 34.3 points per game and his field goal percentage was over 53% in Games 3 and 4 in Boston. He also made 25 3-pointers in those four games and made at least half of his 3s in Games 1, 3 and 4.

He had been the most consistent part of Golden State’s offense. After Game 4, Thompson marveled at what Curry had accomplished and talked about wanting to give him some help.

But on Monday, Green, as usual, disagreed with what he called the emerging “narrative” that Curry didn’t get the help he needed for this series.

“If he does that, we’re going to be Steph Curry heavyweight,” Green said. “It is exactly what it is. The whole idea that guy doesn’t have, he has no help, well, you’ve got 43, he’s gonna keep shooting, and we’re gonna do everything we can to get him to shoot.

He continued in that vein for a few more sentences before smiling.

“He was 0 for 9 of 3,” Green said. “He’s going to be livid before Game 6. And that’s exactly what we need.”

Curry said he was looking forward to “the rebound” his shooting percentage would seemingly inevitably get.

When at their best, Warriors can hit you in waves. Stop one and another will come your way.

It has always been so to some extent. In the first run of their dynasty, back when they played at Oracle Arena in Oakland, they had to face Curry, Green, Thompson and Andre Iguodala, and then Kevin Durant for a while.

Monday evening, they showed that it is always thus.




nytimes sport

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