• Full Coverage: 2022 NBA Finals
SAN FRANCISCO – By now you’ve heard all about Stephen Curry’s riotous performance in Game 4 at TD Garden.
But let’s take a moment to acknowledge teammate Andrew Wiggins, who jumps to No. 5 in today’s edition of our 2022 NBA Finals race after clinching a career-high 16 boards in Game 4. In doing so, he became the first Golden State Warrior to finish with at least 17 points and 16 rebounds in an NBA Finals since Nate Thurmond in 1967.
“All I know is they passed us in the last game and got all the offensive rebounds,” he said. “I just wanted to come in and be aggressive on the boards and try to help.”
Wiggins delivered such a monstrous production in what we can safely call the most significant outing of his career, even helping Golden State go 2-2 in the finals on the way home for Game 5.
Let’s also consider the former No. 1 overall pick’s influence on the defensive end, where he’s often tasked with holding back Celtics superstars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“Wiggs was fantastic‘ said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “To play Boston you have to deal with Tatum and Brown and they are just strong, experienced players. They keep coming at you.”
Yet Wiggins keeps making it difficult for the duo to produce when Boston needs it most.
In four games against Tatum in that series, Wiggins has limited the forward to 34 points on 13-for-39 shooting, while Brown only managed seven goals on 2-for-8 shooting when guarded by the Canadian.
The 27-year-old finished in plus-20 and grabbed six of his rebounds in the crucial fourth quarter.
“Wiggs did what he’s done in all the playoffs: make it difficult for the opposing starter to score,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green. “[He] rebounded the ball like hell, which he’s been doing all playoffs.
And now the top 5 in our 2022 Race to the NBA Finals MVP Ladder after Game 4:
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
NBA Finals stats: 34.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.8 apg
What can we say about Curry’s near-perfect performance in Game 4 that we haven’t already said? We saw where this was going early on when the point guard nailed a beginning 3 that forced a Celtics timeout. That simply translated into a 14 point third quarterthen one overefficient last frame as Golden State launched a 17-3 run in the final five minutes. One could legitimately argue that Curry has already won four games in this series NBA Finals MVP. But of course, we’ll still have to let that play out on the court when we re-enter the dogfight of an NBA Finals at the Chase Center on Monday.
2.Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
NBA Finals stats: 22.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.8 apg
Normally aggressive, Brown made his first shot of the night at 7:31 in the opening quarter and finished with just two points before hitting a 10 in the second quarter. Brown surpassed 500 points in the 2022 NBA playoffs but only scored nine points on 4-for-11 shooting in the second half of a missed opportunity for Boston. Brown tried attack on the line, but the Celtics need more from him and Tatum when the series returns to San Francisco. “It’s hard to take a loss in our house on nights like tonight,” Brown said.
3.Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
NBA Finals stats: 22.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 7.8 apg
We saw it in a flash, but colleague Shaun Powell notes that Boston is still waiting for the superstar who shone in the previous three rounds of the playoffs. In the second half of the first four games, Tatum is down -19 while averaging 8.3 points at 26.5% from floor and 21.4% from 3-point range. “Sometimes he looks for fouls,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “They are a team that charges in certain games. He’s looking for opportunities, shooting over two, three guys.” Tatum also had six turnovers in Game 4 and he has a 3.5 average in the series.
4. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
NBA Finals stats: 17.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.0 apg
Thompson has teamed with Curry and Green to win 19 NBA Finals competitions of his career to join San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for the most Finals wins of any trio in the past 50 seasons. Thompson and Curry (18 points) almost topped the entire Celtics roster (19 points) in the fourth quarter as they combined 5-on-8 from the field and 3-on-4 from deep. Defensively, Thompson just couldn’t be beat from dribbling on the track. “To be out there competing at this stage, I can’t believe I’m here given where I was at this time last year,” Thompson said.
5. Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors
NBA Finals stats: 16.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.5 apg
Believe Wiggin’s appreciation for helping the Warriors improve to 2-13 all-time in the playoffs in Boston as they secured their first postseason win at the Celtics’ home ground since 1960. If you haven’t noticed by now, Golden State’s net worth appears to be big depending on Wiggins’ performance. In Game 3, Boston smashed the Warriors on the boards (47-31), with the forward grabbing just seven rebounds in a 116-100 loss. In Game 4, his 13 defensive rebounds helped the Warriors limit the Celtics to 12 second chance points compared to his own team’s 19.
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Michael C. Wright is senior writer for NBA.com. You can email him herefind his archive here and keep following him Twitter.
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