For the fourth time in eight seasons, the Golden State Warriors are NBA champions, prevailing by a 103-90 margin on the road in a hostile environment on Thursday evening. After Andrew Wiggins keyed a memorable Game 5 win in San Francisco, the Warriors withstood an early haymaker from the Boston Celtics in Game 6, relying on a defense that was stingy throughout the series and banking on the excellent offensive work of Stephen Curry in appropriate fashion.
The early moments of Game 6 belonged to Boston in dominant fashion. The Celtics started the game with a 14-2 run, making five of their first seven shots and holding Golden State to only two points in more than four minutes of action.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) June 17, 2022
The Warriors would awaken from an early slumber and respond in kind. After 12 consecutive missed three-pointers to begin the series, Draymond Green finally converted a triple as part of a Golden State run late in the first quarter. With the help of that long-range connection and three-pointers from Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole, the Warriors used a 17-4 run to take their first lead of the game.
That barrage included 11 consecutive points to end the opening quarter, and the Warriors almost inexplicably led by a 27-22 margin after 12 minutes.
Steph Curry gives the @warriors the lead
GSW is on a 25-8 run on ABC pic.twitter.com/pHLjKWCG21
— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2022
Golden State wasn’t done either, with Poole making an immediate impact. After banking in a three-pointer to close the first quarter, Poole hit another three-pointer to start the second quarter and kept it rolling. He scored 11 points, including a trio of three-pointers, in his first seven minutes of action, spearheading a 21-0 overall run by the Warriors that gave Golden State a 15-point advantage.
Jordan Poole finds Andrew Wiggins charging down the floor for the jam!
— NBA (@NBA) June 17, 2022
Not only did the Warriors find their footing on offense, the Celtics fell apart on offense. Boston failed to score on eight consecutive possessions, going more than five full minutes without a point. The result was a history-making run by Golden State, setting a new NBA Finals standard for the most explosive in-game spurt.
21-0 is the longest scoring run in a Finals game over the last 50 years. The previous high was 20-0 by the Warriors (Game 2 in 2019).
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 17, 2022
Boston did have a response, and it came immediately. The Celtics scored seven straight points, prompting a Golden State timeout, and that cut the margin back to single digits while bringing the TD Garden crowd back into the proceedings.
Time Lord with the block, Tatum with the euro!
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) June 17, 2022
That push was valuable for Boston, but Golden State had a counter. With the Celtics prompted to remove both Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart for stretches with foul trouble, the home team was out of sync, and the Warriors strung together a 17-4 spurt to take a 21-point lead. Curry scored seven points in a row on his own, taking even more attention from the opposing defense and creating avenues for others.
Defense had no chance against Stephpic.twitter.com/lM3VADkePt
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) June 17, 2022
Making things more interesting, the Celtics did score the final six points of the first half, clawing back within a 15-point margin. Boston’s offense continued to struggle, as it has the entire series, when the three-pointers weren’t falling, and the Celtics shot just 3-of-14 from long distance while turning the ball over on more than 25 percent of possessions. With the Warriors burying 10 three-pointers in the half and winning the turnover battle by a 13-7 margin, Golden State’s math advantage was evident and it was easy to forget the Warriors once trailed by double figures in the opening minutes.
Coming out of the locker room, Boston was able to score with more efficiency, benefitting from nine quick points from Al Horford and threatening to make a move on the scoreboard. However, Golden State countered each and every time and, midway through the third quarter, Curry and Otto Porter Jr. combined to connect on a three-pointer on four consecutive possessions. That gave the Warriors a 72-50 cushion with 18 minutes to go and more than neutralized any uptick from the Celtics’ offense.
Though the Warriors were clearly in control, the Celtics did not roll over. Keyed by seven points from Jaylen Brown and inspired play from Horford on both ends, the Celtics zoomed to a 15-2 run, slashing the deficit by more than half and staying in relative touch with only a nine-point deficit.
The Warriors took only a ten-point advantage to the fourth quarter, likely kicking themselves over a period of nearly six minutes in which they scored only two points. Boston’s offense also stalled to begin the closing period, though, as the Celtics managed only two points in more than three minutes. That allowed Golden State to stabilize matters, even with Curry on the bench for a scheduled rest, and the Warriors held onto a double-digit lead despite missing ten consecutive three-point attempts heading into the mid-quarter timeout.
Truly a special game from Draymond pic.twitter.com/QdpQdfW9U3
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 17, 2022
Shortly after a timeout, a three-point play by Grant Williams and a corner three-pointer from Brown brought the Celtics to within eight, the closest gap in the second half to that point. In on-brand fashion, however, Andrew Wiggins buried a corner triple on the next possession and, after Boston’s 21st turnover of the game, the Warriors scored again to extend the margin back to 13 points with fewer than five minutes remaining.
For the most part, that response secured things for Golden State, and a dagger arrived with 3:17 to go. Fittingly, it came off the hand of Curry, who calmly connected on a three-pointer to give the Warriors a 15-point advantage that would never be threatened.
As the seconds ticked down, the Warriors started to let the emotions flow, with Curry particularly overcome by the moment as he took a seat in the lane to reflect by himself.
Steph gets emotional after winning his 4th ring pic.twitter.com/5fC5qFk8bS
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 17, 2022
Curry was the clear individual story of the evening, finishing with 34 points on 12-of-21 shooting and 6-of-11 from three-point range. Curry’s gravity was plainly evident for the entirety of the six-game series, and he also added seven rebounds and seven assists on the way to MVP honors. From a team standpoint, the Warriors connected on 19 three-pointers and generated 27 assists, with Golden State’s elite-level defense playing a significant part in Boston’s offensive struggles.
For the Celtics, it was a familiar refrain in that they simply could not sustain efficient offense. Boston’s ball security issues were a plague throughout the night with 23 turnovers, and Tatum managed only 13 points on 18 shots. Brown (34 points) and Horford (19 points, 14 rebounds) performed at a high level alongside the clear defensive impact of Robert Williams, but it simply wasn’t enough in four of six games.
There will be time to reflect on a dynastic run for the Warriors, as four championships in an eight-season span is beyond impressive. This time around, it wasn’t as easy or as predictable as the two most recent titles headlined by Kevin Durant, but a generational superstar and a dogged defense combined to send another Larry O’Brien Trophy to the Bay.