NBA Finals on ABC: Will Boston force a Game Seven or will Golden State extend its dynasty?

NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, middle, shoots against Boston Celtics guard Derrick White, left, and center Al Horford during the first half of Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals in San Francisco, Monday, June 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn, Pool)

BOSTON — Unable to capitalize on a historically rough shooting night from Stephen Curry, the Boston Celtics enter Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals with their backs against the wall. While their elite defense remains intact, the Celtics couldn’t buy a bucket—shooting below 42% from the field in the last two games.

Despite an admirable performance from Jayson Tatum (27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists on 50% shooting), the Celtics’ offense never found a rhythm beyond a third-quarter scoring outburst that quickly swung back in Golden State’s favor. It was an abysmal shooting night from Jaylen Brown, who missed all but five of his 18 shot attempts including a donut on five 3-pointers.

Still, it took a historic outburst from Steph to steal a win in Boston during Game Four. Replicating that with a roaring crowd chanting expletives and rallying behind their team is no easy feat—even for a franchise that has won three of the last seven NBA Finals and appeared in two more.

Boston has received phenomenal effort from its talented young big man, Robert Williams. While he doesn’t stuff the stat sheet in a traditional sense, Williams’ roaming backline defense and stellar rim deterrence make scoring in the paint an uphill battle.

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Steady as Williams may be, it’s the Celtics’ veteran center who may swing the series. At 36, five-time All-Star Al Horford is in his first NBA Finals appearance and his production is having a direct influence on whether Boston wins or loses. However, his lack of aggression on offense and stagnant defense have done more harm than good for the team. After several days of rest with a hometown crowd supporting him, Horford could be the catalyst in pushing the series to seven games.

For Golden State, the differentiator is clear: First-time All-Star Andrew Wiggins is evolving his game on the biggest stage in basketball. He is the Warriors’ second-leading scorer in the series while leading the team in rebounding and taking on the challenge of defending Tatum. His long, sturdy frame helps him keep up with the 6-foot-8 All-NBA star while his quickness and athleticism give him free rein of the court.

Despite shooting the ball quite poorly from the outside, Wiggins led Golden State with 26 points and 13 rebounds during a Game Five that may define his legacy in the NBA. Often regarded as a disappointing No. 1 pick for his lack of star power, Wiggins is changing the narrative of his career before our eyes by playing a role to the fullest extent and sacrificing individual accolades for team success.

The Warriors and Celtics tip-off from TD Garden at 6:00 p.m. PST on KAPP-KVEW (ABC). Tune in for pre-game coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST.

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