Steve Kerr told his team they were going to end this series in Boston. He was right.
For the first time since June 8, 2018, the Golden State Warriors are NBA Champions again. And in this Game 6, it wasn’t particularly close.
The Warriors went to the TD Garden, fell behind briefly, then rained fire upon the Celtics in a 103-90 win that reaffirmed a dynastic run once thought a part of the past.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and even Andre Iguodala now have their fourth championship rings with the Warriors.
Everyone had their moments, but Curry finally anointed
One of the great differences between the Warriors and Celtics is depth and confidence in that depth. In the minutes Boston ran out the likes of Derrick White (-26), Grant Williams (-18) and Payton Pritchard (-20), their three key bench players, they were demolished.
Their playoff rotation had been a firm eight players from start to finish, whereas the Warriors have leaned on myriad players throughout the playoffs and in fitting fashion, got contributions from everyone who set foot on the court on Thursday.
There were some massive shots from Jordan Poole (15 points) and Otto Porter Jr (6 points, 2-of-3 from deep). Gary Payton II’s defense (6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, a block) was excellent.
But that emanates from the confidence in the starting group. Klay Thompson chucked and chucked to no avail (12 points on 5-of-20 shooting), but even in that failure, he emanated that outrageous confidence.
Andrew Wiggins remained reliable, just as he was all series, with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Draymond Green was at his very best.
And Stephen Curry? Well, he did this… in the third quarter.
When he talks shit, he seems to never fail to back it up.
With 3:16 left in the fourth quarter, he hit a three to put the Warriors up 15, followed by a “night night” celebration. His confidence, at an all-time high, is always warranted.
Curry put the Celtics to sleep, on a night he responded from an 0-for-9 3-point shooting performance with 34 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and a block.
After a series averaging 31.2 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals per game, Curry won his first NBA Finals MVP. It is an award that doesn’t really matter, but will at least shut up some talking heads who used his lack of one as a lame argument against him.
Draymond was outrageously good
There was a moment in this series that demanded questions about Green. Was he actually up to the task in this series? After a disaster in Game 3 and getting benched for a stint in Game 4, Green looked like his vintage self over the last two games.
But to even lump this performance in with his Game 5 performance would be inaccurate.
Aside from a handful of those launch-the-ball-forward turnovers, Green wasn’t just good. He was omnipresent.
When he is at his best, as he was on Thursday, he is affecting every facet of the game.
He seemed to grab every consequential rebound, push the pace to put the Celtics in consistently uncomfortable positions and even hit a pair of threes, plus a clutch jumper.
But Green’s dominance, as it usually does, showed up with his defense.
He wreaked havoc at the rim, assaulted passes lanes, switched with the speed and furiosity he is so known for. His impact was monumental on a night he tallied 12 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. His plus-minus of +16 trailed only Gary Payton II’s +20 margin.
It was vintage Green when he was needed most.
The Celtics — Brown and Horford aside — folded
I mean, we can say pretty confidently that was soft, right? At home, in Boston, with a chance to move this series to a Game 7 when the pressure would lean on the Warriors, and that’s what the Celtics came up with?
Sorry folks, that is soft.
Maybe it’s a product of all the minutes their starting lineup accrued over the course of these playoffs, and losing the war of attrition, but it’s not like the Warriors are spring chickens. Fatigue is not an excuse in the Finals.
The Celtics just didn’t show up. They looked shook, turning it over 23 times. That’s not to say it just happened.
Golden State’s defense was outrageously effective, just as it was all playoffs long. Still, championship teams figure out a way.
And Jayson Tatum, their supposed star player, who so publicly tried to emulate Kobe Bryant? He missed shot after shot after shot, and didn’t look like he was ready for the moment offensively, finishing with 13 points, 7 asists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 5 turnovers on 6-of-18 shooting and 1-of-4 from deep.
The only Boston players who looked like they were ready for the moment were Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, who deserved more than to go ringless again.
Brown had 34 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Horford had 19 points and 14 rebounds. The Celtics are a talented team.
But when the moment mattered, they didn’t have their version of Steph Curry, nor the depth and resounding confidence to fight through those harrowing moments.
It won’t surprise anyone if they’re back here.