The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions for the fourth time in eight years.
After trailing 1-0 and 2-1, the Warriors won the last three games the NBA Finals, handing the Boston Celtics their first three-game losing streak since December. And they ended the 2021-22 season with a 103-90 victory in Game 6 on Thursday.
Stephen Curry led the way with 34 points (12-for-21 FGs, including six 3-pointers). He earned the Bill Russell Finals MVP award, averaging 31.2 points — his highest output in six trips to the Finals — over the six games.
Curry didn’t do it alone, of course. And one stat stood out from the rest as the Warriors won their seventh title in franchise history.
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
eFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
OREB% = % of available offensive rebounds obtained
97.9 — Celtics’ points scored per 100 possessions over the last three games of the Finals.
That is the Celtics’ worst three-game stretch of offense this season, including the playoffs. Their previous low for any three-game stretch was 99.3 points per 100 possessions from Nov. 26 to Dec. 1. Games 5 and 6 of the Finals marked the only instance this season that Boston was held to fewer than a point per possession in two straight games.
“Our defense was spectacular in this series,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said afterward. “Especially the last three games.”
The Celtics also had the league’s best offense (120.7 points per 100) as they went 26-6 to close the regular season. They were nearly as efficient (119.2) as they swept the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
But the Celtics’ offense had some serious ups and downs after that, with some ugly games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat. And the Finals was their worst offensive series (105.6 points scored per 100 possessions) of the four they played. Their four losses in this series were also among their six least-efficient performances in 24 playoff games.
The Celtics actually shot 40.8% from 3-point range — their best mark in any of their four series — in the Finals. But they shot just 49.3% in the paint, their worst six-game stretch of interior shooting this season. Turnovers were also a big problem. And appropriately, the Celtics went out with 23 miscues in Game 6 to tie for the third most of any team in these playoffs.
“Offensively we were not good this series,” Celtics wing Jaylen Brown said. “Give credit to the Warriors. They forced us into doing stuff we didn’t want to do.”
After a great start to the season, the Warriors’ defense fell off when Draymond Green was out for two months. It really didn’t return to form even once Green was back in the lineup, and through the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Warriors ranked sixth defensively (111.0 points per 100).
Draymond Green recorded 5 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a half for the 2nd time this postseason.
On the other end, Boston shot 2-7 in the 1st half when Draymond Green was the primary defender, including a combined 0-4 from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with Green on them. pic.twitter.com/mHdaeOmseR
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 17, 2022
But Golden State’s defense stepped up in the Finals. And it absolutely shut the Celtics down over the last three games. Green was the straw that stirred the drink, Andrew Wiggins kept Jayson Tatum in check (37% shooting) and the Warriors met nearly every Celtics drive with multiple bodies and arms.
Credit to Warriors assistant Mike Brown, who will move on from Golden State to coach the Sacramento Kings. The Kings have a 16-year playoff drought, but their new coach Brown has proved to be the architect of a championship defense.
The Warriors’ offense — which ranked No. 1 in ball movement during the regular season — remains a joy to watch and Curry is a historical offensive force.
But defense still wins championships, and the Warriors’ defense won this one.
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