The 2022 NBA Finals is still waiting for either team to win back-to-back games. Can the Warriors finally break through? Or will the Celtics continue the back and forth of the series?
It might seem like the Warriors are ready to race for the title. The Warriors reclaimed home field advantage with Stephen Curry’s brilliant performance in Game 4. And their experience could come in handy in the all-important Game 5. But the young Celtics have shown they are nothing but resilient.
All eyes will be on Curry. His lowest point production was his 29-point ante in the Game 2 win. He averages 34.2 points and is easily the MVP of this finals. What will the Celtics defense plan to do to stop him?
USA TODAY Sports will provide live updates and analysis throughout the evening as Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Finals begins.
HOW TO SEE: Celtics vs. Warriors, NBA Finals Game 5: Live Stream, TV Channel
Otto Porter Jr. prevails against Kevon Looney
Golden State coach Steve Kerr made a roster change in Game 4, starting Otto Porter Jr. in place of Kevon Looney. It turns out that Looney had a more impactful performance off the bench with six points, 11 rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal, and the Warriors overtook Boston by 21 points while Looney was on the court.
Kerr is sticking with his Game 4 starters: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Porter. Looney will come off the bench again.
“In terms of size, I think Looney has obviously been solid and has hurt us on the glass in a couple of games,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “The opposite of that is we can get our bigs out earlier and bring them back when he comes in.”
Should Steph Curry become Finals MVP no matter which team wins?
Stephen Curry has the best NBA final of his career. He’ll almost certainly win his first Finals MVP award if the Warriors win.
Should he win even if the Celtics win? ESPN NBA Analyst Kendrick Perkins believes so. “I believe Steph Curry should win the Finals as MVP, regardless of the outcome! He was the BEST player on the show and it’s nowhere near. The man’s average age is 35!!!!” Perkins said on Twitter.
Curry, averaging 34.2 points, has virtually no chance of winning the award if the Warriors lose. In the 2015 Finals, where the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games, there was much debate over whether LeBron James should win the award after becoming the first player in league history to score both teams in points (35.8 ), rebounds (13.3) and assists (8.8).
Andre Iguodala, who averaged 16.3 points, 4.0 assists and 5.8 rebounds, received 7 out of 11 MVP votes in large part due to his defensive efforts. James reportedly received the other four votes.
LA Lakers’ Jerry West remains the only player in league history to win MVP from a losing team. In 1969, West won the award when the Lakers lost to the Celtics. The last game went to the end and the voters cast their bets before the final result. West had 42 points with 13 rebounds and 12 assists in Game 7.
Robert Williams ‘available’ for Game 5
Robert Williams was listed as ‘available’ in the Celtics’ injury report after suffering right knee pain resulting from surgery in late March. Williams has started all four NBA Finals games and averaged 6.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks against the Warriors.
“To be honest, I don’t even think about it anymore when I’m on the court,” Williams said on Sunday. “I basically played almost the entire playoffs. Of course it’s hard to deal with, but I don’t really think about it on the pitch. I guess you could say my adrenaline carries me gratefully.”
Celtics coach Ime Udoka said he will not have a minute limit.
Who are the X Factors for Game 5?
Boston’s Al Horford
The Celtics don’t necessarily need the kind of scoring production they got from Horford in Game 1 when he contributed 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Horford is a key part of the Celtics starting lineup and all but disappeared in the fourth quarter with Game 4 still up for grabs. It could certainly be argued that he disappeared in the Celtics’ losses in the Finals – he had two points on 1-on-4 shooting in Game 2 and was 2-on-6 with eight points in Game 4.
Golden State’s Draymond Green
Much has been written and said about Draymond Green in this series and very little of it has been positive. The best thing that can be said about his performance in Game 4 is that he made some good defensive plays in the dying minutes that helped the Warriors maintain their slim lead. Of course, Green played so poorly on offense that Warriors coach Steve Kerr traded him for more offense. That’s a testament to Green’s 6-for-26 shooting in the final. Even his mother trolled him on Twitter.
DRAYMOND GREEN:Even his mom had Twitter jokes after another tough game
OPINION: Draymond Green is fighting in the NBA Finals, but his podcasting has nothing to do with it
Adam Silver misses Game 5 due to COVID protocols
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver canceled plans to attend Monday night’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics because of the league’s health and safety protocols.
Silver usually participates in all finals.
The league did not say whether Silver tested positive for COVID-19 or was considered a close contact to someone who had, nor did it release details about his health.
It’s also unclear when Silver will be able to play games again. Part of his role as commissioner is to hand out the league championship trophy, which is awarded to a team on either Thursday in Boston or Sunday in San Francisco.
WHOLE STORY: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will miss Finals Game 5 due to COVID protocols
Game 5 could be crucial in determining the NBA champion
It’s clear that the stakes for both the Warriors and Celtics couldn’t be much higher going into Game 5 of the Finals. With the series tied 2-2 and neither team winning consecutive games, Game 5 could be the deciding factor in who wins the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
In fact, teams that historically win Game 5 have a huge advantage. The last 30 finals have been tied 2-2, the team that wins Game 5 has won the series 73.3% of the time (22-8). That includes last season, when the Milwaukee Bucks lost their first two games to the Phoenix Suns before winning four in a row to end the streak
Why the league switched back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format for the finals
As recently as 2013, Game 5 of the NBA Finals was played in the 2-3-2 Finals format at the arena of the team that did not have home field advantage.
The league switched back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format starting with the 2014 finals.
“There was,” said then-NBA commissioner David Stern at the start of the 2013-14 season, “a consistent feeling among our teams, and they said two things: First, in a 2-2 series, it’s kind of an it “It’s not fair that the team with the better record is gone. And secondly, it’s difficult for the team – the better team in terms of record – to be away for up to eight days.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who was then an assistant commissioner and three months prior to replacing Stern, supported the move then and still does today.
“We just feel like it’s better from a competitive standpoint,” Silver said at the start of the June 2 Boston-Golden State series. “Throughout my years in the league, I always felt like it was the first time I went back to that format. Above all, players are used to the 2-2-1-1-1 format from the earlier rounds on the body, and it felt just always felt that way – even if you weren’t sure where the injustice lay – but the three second city just felt long and tedious.
“We have beautiful planes in this league. It’s a long flight. Again, it’s tough on any body. It’s tough for the media to travel back and forth across the country, but it feels like the right format.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has played several times with the Chicago Bulls in the 2-3-2 Finals format, prefers the current model.
“I prefer 2-2-1-1-1,” he said. “It’s a fairer format. And since we have a couple of days between each game except 3 and 4, I think both teams will be able to make the journey. But it seems like a fairer test. What I remember that every time a team lost one of the first two at home during that period, it didn’t seem right that you had to go out on the road and play three games in a row. I think that’s why the format was changed back .
“Ironically though, that’s rarely happened where the home side won the middle three. So it’s been good for the journey, but it feels like a more natural flow to go back to the 2-2-1-1-1.”
– Jeff Zillgitt
A not so happy anniversary
Exactly three years ago, the guard for the Golden State Warriors tore the ACL in his left knee in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors, beginning a stretch that saw Thompson sidelined for the next 2½ seasons.
On Sunday, Thompson was asked to reflect on that moment and what it meant to be back in the finals after everything he’s been through. He admitted that he hadn’t compiled that Monday was the anniversary of that knee injury.
“Well, there are a lot of emotions on this day. We were close to having another opportunity to make three peat, which hasn’t been done since Shaq (O’Neal) and Kobe (Bryant),” Thompson began.
“When I injured my knee it was new territory for me because I had been a consistent presence in the line-up throughout my career. So I had to realign my whole train of thought with the months ahead. I knew I had a lot of training ahead of me and it was really tough because I didn’t really have a break. Normally you get a nice summer break after such a long season. I had to go straight to rehab and that was a long cycle after that, a few years.”
– Jeff Zillgitt
WHOLE STORY: Klay Thompson remembers the three-year anniversary of the brutal NBA Finals injury