SAN FRANCISCO – At the start of the NBA Finals between Boston and Golden State, the Celtics’ inexperience versus the Warriors’ experience at this stage of the postseason was an argument.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said the experience was important.
“It helps to have been here before, just to feel it and know what’s coming,” he said. “The only thing you can do is focus on the game and when you are away from it try not to get too involved in anything related to the game. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, do more than just look at all the media stuff.”
Celtics coach Ime Udoka said it was no big deal that none of his players had played in the Finals.
“Once you get out of the initial media circus and the intensity and how everything is much more exaggerated,” he said. “Obviously, it’s not much different when you walk on the court. You’ve got guys that are young but have been through some Eastern Conference finals already, and our path this year, you know, two Game 7s and playing against some top teams and taking a tough route, I think that prepared us more. than nothing. .”
It’s about what you expected both coaches to say as they searched for any small advantage, real or not.
Boston dismissed the issue with a Game 1 win and then took a 2-1 series lead.
However, as this series heads into Game 6 on Thursday in Boston, where the Warriors have a chance to win their fourth championship in eight seasons, experience has played a role.
In the fourth quarter of Game 4, the Warriors outscored the Celtics 28-19, and in the fourth quarter of Game 5, they outscored Boston 29-20. Both games were one-point contests heading into the fourth quarter.
With the game on the line, Golden State executed better, ran better offensively, played better defensively, made fewer errors and thrived as Boston withered.
Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Kerr know what’s required in late-game situations. The moment is not overwhelming. They may not always make the right move, but they are familiar with the scenarios.
“I thought that was the biggest part of the game tonight because we had a 12-point lead at the half, and they came and just ran us through in that third quarter for the first, whatever, eight, nine minutes. Kerr said.
The Warriors blew a 51-39 halftime lead and led just 75-74 early in the fourth quarter.
“And that was a crucial part of the game for us to respond to that. … The response to Boston running at me was the key to the game,” Kerr said.
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The Warriors handled the tough stretches. The Celtics haven’t.
In the fourth quarter of the past two games, the Celtics were 11-for-36 from the field, including 6-for-21 from 3-point range, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were 6-for-21 from the field. His fourth-quarter efficiency in two straight losses is terrible, scoring just 84.8 points and allowing 123.9 points per 100 possessions.
The Warriors are shooting 22-for-44 from the field, and while they’ve only gone 5-for-17 from 3-point range the past two games, they’ve outscored the Celtics inside the arc.
Curry, Thompson and Green have influenced teammates who don’t have that Finals experience, specifically Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II.
Curry, Thompson and Green have 20 finals wins, the second-most by a trio behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper’s 22. They are ahead of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
“I feel like you accept the fact that even if it’s not pretty, you can still win the game, and that’s all that matters,” Curry said. “There are a lot of guys that you could point to that had an impact in those moments during the game where we really picked up momentum and responded to their runs and all that kind of stuff.
“It might not be the most fluid situation or the prettiest high-level skill out there, but it’s just polishing it. That’s what the Finals are about.”
Kerr was calm at the time, having been in these situations so many times. That doesn’t mean Udoka isn’t calm. Kerr made a lineup change in Game 4, inserting Otto Porter Jr. into the starting lineup and taking Kevon Looney off the bench, and the Warriors are getting more contributions from more players than Boston.
Just before the fourth quarter began, Kerr told ABC’s Lisa Salters, “We’re right where we need to be.”
Kerr and the Warriors have been here before, and it shows.