The Golden State Warriors went into tonight undefeated at home during the 2022 NBA playoffs, and it looked like they would continue that trend in Game One of the NBA Finals Series against the Boston Celtics. However, things changed in a major way over the last 12 minutes of action as the visitors marched into the Chase Center and beat the Warriors 40-16 during the fourth quarter to exit with a 120-108 victory.
Stars from both sides came to play as Stephen Curry topped all scorers with 34 points while Andrew Wiggins, Klay Thompson and Jordan Paul collected 44 points, nine rebounds and seven assists of their own. In the end, it wasn’t enough to overpower the performances of Jason Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Derek White as the road team managed to steal the home ground advantage in the first game.
Game two will take place on Sunday evening in San Francisco.
Here are the four main points of the game:
1. The Celtics steal it with an amazing fourth quarter
The Celtics got into the fourth quarter in serious trouble with a 12-point lead over the Warriors who were 9-0 at home in the playoffs during the first three rounds. And when the frame started losing Jayson Tatum two easy theories to continue his brutal shooting performance, it didn’t look as though a comeback was in the cards.
That’s when Jaylen Brown took over. With Tatum struggling, the Celtics got the ball into his hands, and began play after play. He scored or helped bring in 20 of the Celtics’ first 23 points in the fourth quarter, where they came back and finally tied with 5:40 left on the Brown-assisted Derek White 3 pointer. It would be hard to say enough about how important this extension is from Brown. This was exactly the scenario where they needed him to step up, and he did so in the biggest match of his career.
It looked like we were going to be on a frantic end, but instead the Celtics kept rolling along. They outperformed the Warriors 17-5 on the final 5:40 to score a double-take and a 1-0 lead in the series. The final quarter tally was 40-16 in favor of the Celtics. This 24 point margin was the largest in a fourth quarter in Finals history.
While the Celtics played well in all aspects of the game in the final frame, the main factor was their three-point shot. They made the first seven attempts of the quarter from downtown and finished 9 of 11 in the deep fourth. Even more impressively, they had five different players make a triple pointer during this stretch.
“Just keep playing,” Alhorford said after the win. “That was our message throughout the game. They’re a good team. And for us, it was just, you know, keep playing no matter what. And our guys, that’s what we did. We didn’t have the best game, but we kept fighting and finding different ways to make that happen. the win “.
2. White does it again
When the Celtics traded Josh Richardson, a 2021 first-round pick and 2028 first-round trade-off for Derek White of the San Antonio Spurs, there were those concerned that they had given up too much for a man who wouldn’t even be in the starting lineup. As it turns out, they may not have given up enough.
White was adjusting smoothly when he hit the deadline and climbed repeatedly during qualifying, especially when Marcus Smart was dealing with injuries. Thursday night, White did it again with perhaps his best performance yet. He finished the season with 21 points and three assists, defeated five three-pointers, and played excellent defense all night. A single plus minus game is not always the best indicator, but the white being the highest plus 25 team in this game is not surprising.
His ability to zip around screens and hold onto the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole while running across the floor is the primary reason why he’s so important in the series. Any offense the Celtics receive from him is a bonus, and they hit the jackpot in the first game. This was the second time he scored over 20 points in the playoffs, and he scored two massive 3-second goals during the fourth quarter.
“[White was doing a] A little of everything,” Celtics coach Im Odoka said, “It’s obviously going to be five against eight out of three. But the playing industry, the making of shots and the defense. You’re talking about that we don’t have a lot of interruption when Marcus comes in and out, his size and versatility on the defensive side, his ability to craft play to engage players and tackle attack was phenomenal tonight.”
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3. Horford Finals debut was a massive success
Al Horford has played in the league since 2007 and has played in the playoffs in 13 of its 15 seasons. But until this round, he had not made it to the NBA Finals. In fact, his 141 playoffs without a Finals appearance was an NBA record. That drought finally came to an end on Thursday, as he hit the ground running for the first game.
He looked absolutely home, digging his first shot of the night – 3 pointers of feeding from Jayson Tatum. That blow foreshadowed what would happen, as Horford hit a career high of six seconds on his way to 26 points, six rebounds and three assists. In addition to being the highest level player in his career, Horford’s 3 doubles were also the biggest player in NBA history in their first Final.
“Just thankful for the opportunity,” Horford said. “It’s just going out there and playing basketball at the end of the day. That’s exactly what it is. Just grateful to be in this situation. God has put me in this situation, and it’s something I embrace and am passionate about. Just excited to be able to share this stage with This group of guys. We have a lot of great guys here, guys who are really convinced of what we’re trying to do. It’s fun seeing it all together.”
Like many others, Horford was particularly impressive in the fourth quarter as the Celtics came back. A perfect 4 of 4 went off the field for 11 points and hit the 3 pointer which gave them the lead forever with 5:10 left. Like Derek White, defense is what the Celtics really need from Horford. When he scores like this, it makes it very difficult to beat him, as Game 1 showed.
4. Curry Makes History, Then Cools
Steph Curry made a three-pointer for the first basket of the game, which started a historic quarter as he finished six 3-seconds and scored 21 points. The three points was the record for an NBA Finals in a single quarter by a single player, and the 21 points were the most earned by a player in a quarterfinals since Michael Jordan in 1993.
While Curry still had to make the picks, the Celtics’ numerous defensive lapses were a big part of his early success. There have been multiple possessions where the Celtics miscommunicated and left Curry wide open for a practice-level shot and another where the seniors were sitting too far in cover the falls.
As the match progressed, the Celtics settled defensively and did a much better job of guarding Curry. His last streak looks great – 34 points, five rebounds and five assists – but he does almost nothing after the first quarter. In fact, he has had more (16) shots than (13) shots from the second quarter onwards. This is an encouraging sign for the Celtics.
5. Tatum becomes a playmaker
Jayson Tatum started the first game by making a jump move on each of the Celtics’ first two properties, and his shooting night didn’t improve much from there. He finished with 12 points in 3 of 17 off the field in his least efficient game of the playoffs, and the second least efficient game of the entire season.
However, he still had a huge impact on the match, and the Celtics Plus 16 were with him on the floor. Part of that was his defense, of course. With all the other elite defenders on this team, Tatum gets overlooked at times, but his length and versatility make it very challenging for opponents.
The main thing for Tatum on Thursday night was the playmaking. Warriors will not allow Tatum to beat them by playing one-on-one. Tatum responded by making the right play over and over again. He didn’t get frustrated when his shot didn’t go down, he didn’t try to force the move and got stuck in traffic and was taking care of the ball. As a result, he finished his career with 13 assists, which was also the most in NBA history for a player in a World Cup Final.
“Yeah, I guess that was kind of [Udoka’s] Tatum said: “A message from day one, just to challenge me to be the best player I can be and improve other areas of my game. We’ve seen a lot of movies throughout the match season, just areas and things I can improve. You know, obviously the playmaking was one. He attracted a lot of attention. Just helped the team as much as possible. So he did a great job challenging myself, just the group, in that aspect.”
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