Stephen Curry poured in 33 points in three quarters, finishing with a game-high 43 points, leading his team to a 107-97 win.
The Warriors flipped a five-point halftime deficit into a one-point advantage entering the fourth quarter. In the final frame, they trailed by four with less than five minutes left, but again rallied, tying the series at two as it heads back to San Francisco.
Now, for a deep dive into how Golden State prevailed, standing in the way of the Celtics taking a commanding 3-1 lead.
Celtics Throw the Initial Punch, Warriors Respond in Back-and-Forth First Frame
With the Warriors starting Otto Porter in place of Kevon Looney, the Celtics immediately attacked the basket. On the game’s first possession, Boston got the ball to Marcus Smart, who got to the cup for a layup with no resistance.
Even with only one day between Games 3 and 4, in the early going, Robert Williams again had a spring in his step, coming from behind to swat a Stephen Curry layup and cleaning up an Al Horford miss with a put-back layup that gave the hosts an 8-4 advantage.
Less than three minutes into the game, Jayson Tatum was 2/2 from beyond the arc and put seven points on the board. Tatum, who’s dealing with a shoulder strain, has made more of an impact with his facilitating than scoring to this point in the Finals, but if this is a sign he’s in-rhythm tonight, it’ll go a long way towards the Celtics taking a commanding 3-1 series lead.
With just over 5:30 remaining in the first frame, Draymond Green cracked Jaylen Brown with a legal screen that left Brown in visible discomfort. Not that it was ever in question, but Brown stayed in the game.
At the 4:18 mark, Green hooked Smart as he drove to the rim, resulting in Green’s second foul, sending him to the bench.
With 3:25 to play in the period, Looney picked up his second crowd while trying to wall off a Derrick White drive. Steve Kerr kept him in the game, though.
With 2:48 left, a White turnover led to Curry burying a three, his first of the game. That put the Warriors ahead for the first time, 20-18. Then, he drilled a shot from 30 feet the next possession, extending Golden State’s lead to 23-18. After that one, Ime Udoka signaled for a timeout, and Curry had something to say to the spirited crowd at TD Garden.
After the Celtics closed out the first quarter with a Grant Williams quarter three, they took a 28-27 lead into the second frame.
Boston assisted on 6/9 field goals, getting downhill and consistently creating in-rhythm looks that resulted in shooting 45 percent from the field, including 4/8 from beyond the arc.
However, the hosts committed five turnovers, playing a significant role in why they only led by one.
But to their credit, the Celtics produced eight points in the paint and took eight free throws, converting on six.
Tatum and Curry led all scorers with 12 points. The latter was 4/8 from the field, including 3/3 on threes.
Twelve of the Warriors’ 20 shots came from beyond the arc. Eleven were from above the break; they made 41.7 percent of those long-range looks. They’re certainly capable of staying hot, but if those threes don’t keep going through the net, Golden State figures to be in a lot of trouble.
Both Teams Hold Each Other Under 27 Points in Second Quarter
Jordan Poole got off to a fast start in the second quarter, producing eight points, including back-to-back threes, giving him ten points off the bench. His second three put the Warriors ahead 33-28 at the 9:29 mark.
With 7:28 to go in the half, Brown fielded a pass from Robert Williams 28-feet out at the left-wing, and he knocked down a three while getting fouled by Klay Thompson. Thompson’s foot was in Brown’s landing space, so while it would’ve been a soft call, he’s lucky it didn’t get upgraded to a flagrant. The officials did not review it to see if it met that criteria.
Unfortunately for Boston, Brown missed the free throw, keeping the score at 35-34 Golden State.
Nearly 30 seconds later, Kerr got hit with a technical. He got heated about Payton Pritchard going to the free-throw line instead of getting called for traveling. He had a strong case, but the officials ruled the contact by Poole came first.
Tatum missed the technical, and Pritchard went 1/2 at the line to make it 37-35 Warriors.
At the 4:49 mark, Poole couldn’t get in front of a driving Brown in time, resulting in his third foul and a trip to the bench.
Starting with a Brown layup at the 4:10 mark, the Celtics went on a 10-0 run, including Al Horford driving baseline and finding Smart for a three from the opposite corner. There was also a White and-one that saw him capitalize on the free throw to put Boston on top 49-42 with 2:58 remaining.
On the following Warriors’ possession, Curry produced a floater and Brown’s third foul, sending the latter to the bench. Curry also tacked on the extra point to make it 49-45.
With 1:22 to go, Curry extended his arm to push off White, resulting in his second foul. White then drilled a three at the other end to give Boston a 52-47 lead.
With 24.1 seconds left, Robert Williams emphatically rejected an Andrew Wiggins layup for his second block of the game.
When the quarter ended, the Celtics took a 54-49 advantage into the locker room.
Tatum had a team-high 16 points, pairing it with seven rebounds and three assists. Brown scored 12, and White provided ten off the bench.
Boston assisted on 11/18 field goals, shooting 46.2 percent from the field, including 8/14 (57.1 percent) from beyond the arc. The Celtics also generated 18 points in the paint, ten off eight Golden State turnovers, and ten on the fast break. Their aggressive approach also resulted in 15 free throws, capitalizing on ten.
As for the Warriors, Curry scored a game-high 19 points, despite only shooting 2/8 on threes. Wiggins scored 11 points, and Poole had ten.
Golden State only shot 39.6 percent from the field, including 7/24 (29.2 percent) from beyond the arc. But they produced 20 points in the paint, turned ten Boston giveaways into 12 points, and converted six offensive rebounds into nine second-chance points.
Warriors Win Third Quarter Goal By Manageable Amount
The Warriors scored the first five points of the third quarter, including a Thompson three, tying the game at 54 less than a minute into the period.
Smart scored the next five, swishing a three, applying force to take the ball from Green, and going in for an uncontested layup.
At the 7:31 mark, Brown crossed up Green, getting into the paint, then knocking down a 17-foot jump shot as Green picked up his third foul. Brown tacked on the extra point, putting Boston ahead 66-60. Green Stayed in the game.
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With 3:06 to go in the frame, Grant Williams committed a take-foul on Curry, his fourth personal. Ime Udoka kept him in, though.
After that, Curry tied the game at 73, burying a three from 33 feet, swishing it from a couple of steps in front of the Celtics’ logo; Curry also got hit by Tatum, but no foul got called. As frustrated as Curry was by the lack of a whistle, not only did that bucket even the score, it also gave him 30 points. No one else had 20 yet.
With 1:57 remaining, Brown tried to jump an entry pass to Gary Payton II but couldn’t get there in time, resulting in his fourth foul. Grant Williams took his place in the lineup.
Williams subbed in early, so Payton got two cracks at the first free throw but missed both. He made the third attempt, trimming Boston’s lead to 75-74.
A Curry three with 58.5 seconds left gave him 33 points and the Warriors a 79-78 lead entering the final frame.
The Celtics will be upset about blowing the lead. But only losing the third quarter 30-24 makes getting a win, which would give them a commanding 3-1 advantage, far more manageable then when they trailed by double digits entering the fourth quarter of Games 1 and 2.
Warriors Convincingly Win Final Frame, Tying Series at Two
Less than a minute into the fourth frame, Tatum drove and dished to White for a left-corner three that gave Boston the lead again, 81-79.
Poole then pulled up for a 17-foot jump shot, but Tatum responded with a three from the right wing, making it 84-81 Celtics.
Thompson even the score with a right-wing three, but Brown countered, attacking off the dribble for a bucket from ten feet that gave Boston an 86-84 advantage.
Brown then produced back-to-back layups, including picking off a careless Curry pass, then putting considerable spin on a shot that went off the glass, the rim, and went in.
Poole pushed Smart away from the ball, picking up his fourth crowd. That sent Smart to the line, where he put the Celtics ahead 91-86 with 7:32 left to play.
At the 5:18 mark, Smart drilled a three as the shot clock expired, giving Boston a 94-90 advantage.
At the other end, Wiggins cleaned a Poole miss, giving him 17 points and cutting the deficit to 94-92. Thompson then buried a three that put Golden State on top 95-94 with 4:26 remaining.
Curry then bid his time until he could get by Robert Williams for a floater that made it 97-94 Warriors. With the visitors on a 7-0 run, Ime Udoka called for a timeout.
At the 1:42 mark, Curry created the necessary separation from White to knock down a transition three that gave the Warriors a 100-94 lead, resulting in another timeout by Udoka.
After the break, Horford answered with a right-corner three to cut the deficit in half.
Following a Brown turnover, Curry attacked the basket, drawing a foul on Horford as the latter rotated to protect the rim. Feeling Curry extended his arm to push off while he was in the air, Udoka challenged the call.
Unfortunately for Boston, the challenge was unsuccessful, costing the home team its last timeout. Curry made both free throws, extending Golden State’s advantage to 104-97 with 47.7 seconds left. Their largest lead of the game.
The Warriors ultimately walked away with a 107-97 win, tying the series at two as it goes back to San Francisco.
Curry finished with a game-high 43 points in a spectacular performance, shooting 14/26 and drilling 7/14 threes.
Thompson scored 18, and Poole Produced 14 off the bench. Golden State also got 17 points and a career-high 16 rebounds from Wiggins.
As for the Celtics, Tatum led them with 23 points, pairing it with 11 rebounds and six assists. But he also committed the most turnovers in the game (6).
Brown provided 21 and six rebounds. Smart scored 18 and registered five assists, four rebounds, and four steals. White, who was excellent in this game, scored 16 off the bench.
In the loss, Boston produced 19 free throws but made 14, leaving five points on the table. The Celtics and Warriors committed 16 turnovers, resulting in 17 points for the hosts and 19 for the visitors.
And while Boston turned 11 offensive rebounds into 12 second-chance points, Golden State converted 16 into 19 points.
Turnovers, even though they were even, and the Warriors’ second-chance points were critical factors in not wasting Curry’s 43-point performance.
The other difference-maker was the Celtics frequently getting stagnant offensively, especially in the second half. Between that and often missing the quality looks they produced in the final two quarters, they scored 43 second-half points compared to Golden State’s 58.
Now, the series is a best-of-three with two games in San Francisco. That’s if a Game 7 is required.
Game 5 of the NBA Finals is Monday night. Tip-off is at 9:00 ET. Inside The Celtics will have content related to the game coming out before, during, and after. And follow @BobbyKrivitsky on Twitter for updates and analysis from pregame to post.
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