The Golden State Warriors are inching towards a fourth NBA crown in the last eight years thanks to a 21-0 first-half run against the reeling Celtics in Game 6 of the Finals at Boston’s TD Garden.
With the Warriors coming off of two consecutive series wins, the Celtics jumped out to a 12-2 lead before Golden State coach Steve Kerr called a timeout and regathered his team. And, as has been the case throughout this seesawing series, the Western Conference champions responded with 11 straight points to end the first quarter with a 27-22 lead.
Things didn’t get any better for Boston at the start of the second quarter, as the Warriors extended the lead to 15 before Celtics forward Jaylen Brown hit a 3-pointer to end Golden State’s 21-0 run.
Ultimately the Warriors took a 54-39 lead into halftime, thanks largely to a dozen first-half turnovers for the Celtics and a combined 24 points from Golden State’s Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.
The Warriors pushed their lead to 22 points in the third quarter on a 30-foot 3-pointer from Stephen Curry, but the Celtics weren’t finished and managed to trim Golden State’s edge back down to single digits with a 15-2 run of their own.
Much of the first half resembled Games 4 and 5, where Boston suffered consecutive fourth-quarter collapses, and groans from the crowd became increasingly audibly throughout the first 24 minutes of play.
Roughly 3,000 miles away in San Francisco, Warriors fans packed the team’s Chase Center to watch on the scoreboard for $25 per ticket. A sellout crowd of 15,907 was expected.
Stephen Curry drives against Celtics teammates Derrick White and Al Horford (right) during Game 6 of the NBA Finals
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart fires a pass over the Warriors’ Kevon Looney in the first quarter of Game 6
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors dribbles the ball against the Boston Celtics during Game 6
Andre Iguodala #9 of the Golden State Warriors talks to fans before Game 6
Boston Celtics fans prepare to welcome Golden State’s Draymond Green at Game 6 of the NBA Finals
A detailed photo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy before Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics on Thursday. The Celtics are tied with their biggest rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, for the most titles in NBA history with 17. The Warriors have six titles, including two championships from Philadelphia before the team moved west
As is often the case before postseason NBA games, free t-shirts are being provided to the home fans before Game 6
Celtics fans enter the stadium before the start of Game 6 at TD Garden in Boston
For Golden State, a win on Thursday would mark the franchise’s fourth NBA title since Kerr took the helm in 2014-15, but just the first since the Warriors were abandoned by former MVP Kevin Durant in free agency after the 2019 NBA Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors.
Since then, Klay Thompson has worked back from not one, but two career-threatening injuries, while Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and the rest of the Warriors have missed the playoffs for the last two consecutive years.
All of that seems like a distant memory now that the Warriors are once again on the verge of winning an NBA title.
And the Warriors aren’t simply relying on the Splash Brothers, Thompson and Curry.
In Monday’s Game 5 win in San Francisco, it was Andrew Wiggins’s strong defensive performance and 26-point effort on offense that proved to be the difference, even as Curry failed to make a single 3-pointer for the first time in his playoff career.
The Celtics weren’t that lucky in the first half on Thursday.
‘Obviously, track record says I shoot the ball better the next game,’ said Curry, whose record streak of 132 consecutive playoff games with a 3-pointer came to an end. ‘Looking forward to that bounce back.’
A determined mindset won’t be exclusive to the Warriors, of course. Boston heads home keen on extending the series to a Game 7 back on the West Coast.
forward Draymond Green (23) and Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) go for the opening tip
Heading into the game, the Celtics were 3.5-points favorites at BetMGM, where they have been backed by 59 percent of the spread bets and 69 percent of the handle. However, the same line at PointsBet had the Warriors draw 59 and 71 percent of the action, respectively.
The action had been split on Boston as a 4.0-point favorite at DraftKings. The Warriors have been supported by 52 percent of the spread bets while the Celtics have drawn 55 percent of the handle.
A championship would give Boston an 18th banner to hang in the rafters, which would be the most all-time. They are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers at 17 championships apiece, but they have not won one since 2008.
While the Warriors tilt heavily toward Curry, the Celtics lean on Jayson Tatum, who had 27 points and 10 rebounds in the Game 5 defeat.
Behind Tatum’s 26.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game average in the playoffs, the Celtics have been on a wild ride. Since a sweep over the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, they haven’t won consecutive home games over the next three rounds and are 2-3 at home since the start of the conference finals.
Boston did protect its home court to win Game 7 of the conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks but lost at home with a chance to eliminate the Miami Heat in the conference finals. They advanced by winning Game 7 on the road.
‘You know, I’ve said it before: You better be confident, right?’ Tatum said. ‘We ain’t got to win two in one day. We just got to win one game on Thursday. We’ve been in this situation before. So it’s not over. Got to win on Thursday. That’s all we got to worry about right now.’
A Boston Celtics fan gestures outside before the start of Game 6
Daniel Theis #27 of the Boston Celtics high fives Grant Williams #12 prior to the game against the Golden State Warriors during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 16, 2022 at TD Garden in Boston
Jaylen Brown warms up before Thursday’s Game 6 in Boston. On Monday, in Game 5, Brown made only 5 of 18 field goals
Brave Golden State Warriors fans pose for photos outside TD Garden in Boston before Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday
ESPN’s (from left) Zach Lowe, Malika Andrews, Richard Jefferson, and Kendrick Perkins talk on set prior to Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals on Thursday in Boston. Jefferson won a title with the Warriors (2016), while Perkins did so with the Celtics (2008)
The Celtics were 20-21 at the midway point of the season under first-year coach Ime Udoka, but caught fire in March
The Celtics switched up their coverage on Curry out of Warriors pick-and-rolls, but now they’ve lost that element of defensive surprise going into Game 6.
While it kept Curry in check, Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins had a team-high 26 points to go with 13 rebounds. Klay Thompson had 21 points for the Warriors and was 5 of 11 from 3-point range.
‘Yeah, better job on him; a little more physical there,’ Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said of the defense on Curry. ‘Overall, it’s a solid job on him, but again, I don’t know if it was our defense as much as offensive struggles that hurt us (in Game 5).’
The 210.0-point Over/Under at DraftKings has drawn 57 percent of the bets and handle to the Over. The market opened at 211.5 points at BetMGM but has moved to 209.5 with the Under backed by 52 and 60 percent of the action, respectively.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver missed Thursday night’s Game 6 as he remains in the league’s health and safety protocol.
The NBA hasn’t disclosed whether Silver tested positive for COVID-19.
Silver’s absence would be notable if the Warriors win the title. According to reports, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum would present the Larry O’Brien Trophy should Golden State win Thursday.
If Boston wins to tie the series, a decisive Game 7 will be held Sunday night in San Francisco.
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics, his son, Deuce Tatum, Juwan Morgan #16 and Sam Hauser #30 observe the playing of the national anthem prior to Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green answers questions during the Golden State Warriors’ media availability on Wednesday