SAN FRANCISCO — The highlights of the Stephen Curry 3-pointers, Robert Williams’ blocked shots and, now, Andrew Wiggins’ dunks, continue to run as the premier moments in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Celtics coach Ime Udoka keeps trying to tell everyone they’re missing the point.
The Golden State Warriors are one win from claiming another title after a 104-94 Game 5 victory over the Boston Celtics Monday night. But the Warriors are not ahead 3-2 because they’re winning the anticipated battle of the series — Boston’s relentless and expertly constructed No. 1 defense going against the historic shooting wizard and his brothers in arms — but because of the exact opposite.
These Finals are being won at the other end of the court, the Warriors’ defense suffocating the Celtics and negating Boston’s game plan.
And that’s how fans who were pouring out of Chase Center Monday night explained it, too, after watching Curry go 0-for-9 on 3-pointers, the first time in four years and 233 games he didn’t make a triple.
“I know that’s the thing people notice at first, consistently, how well I shoot my ball, how I shoot my shots, that flair,” Curry said. “I can’t control the narratives however people talk about the game. When you watch the game, it’s not just about that. … I think we are [the] No. 2 defense for a reason.”
Udoka, the Celtics’ first-year coach, did make some adjustments to his defensive game plan against Curry, namely having his big men crowd him more after screens and employing more switches to discourage the kind of shooting Curry had been displaying in the series.
But he spent more time before Game 5 worrying about Boston’s offense. And as he and his team take the five-hour flight back to the East Coast on Tuesday, he’ll be working on those issues more intently as he prepares for Game 6.
“Again,” Udoka said, repeating himself from last week when he was peppered with questions about Curry. “I don’t know if it was our defense as much as offensive struggles that hurt us tonight.”
When Curry scored 43 points in Game 4 … the Warriors had 107 as a team. Wiggins put up a sublime 26-point effort Monday, which probably could be classified as the best game of his pro career considering the stakes, and the Warriors scored … 104.
The Golden State Warriors lead the Boston Celtics 3-2 in the Finals, with Game 6 Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC) in Boston.