After Game 3, the Celtics were in control of the NBA Finals. Boston took a 2-1 lead over Golden State following that game and had taken home-court advantage following their comeback in the fourth quarter of Game 1.
Then, the Warriors showed why they were the NBA’s top franchise over the past decade. Golden State won the next three games of the series, capping it off with a Game 6 triumph in Boston to win the team’s fourth championship over the last eight years on Thursday night.
As the Warriors showed the Celtics what it takes to win a title, they also showed some class on their way out. Warriors coach Steve Kerr wanted to shout out several members of the Celtics’ organization following his team’s win.
“First, I want to say congrats to the Celtics on a great series,” Kerr said. “They were incredible. Their defensive athleticism, length, toughness, was really tough to overcome, and they had us on the ropes in this series, and a tremendous season.
“You know, since I’ve been here, we’ve lost in the Finals twice, and it’s devastating, you know, to get this far and to come up short, and I’ve got a lot of friends across that hall, you know, between Ime [Udoka] and Will Hardy, Damon Stoudamire, Aaron Miles, a bunch of really good friends and guys I’ve coached in FIBA, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, great, great, group of guys.
“So I genuinely feel for them because I know what it’s like to lose at this point, but they had an amazing run and it was a great, great series.”
A common sentiment made among those in NBA media was that the Celtics had the more talented team in the NBA Finals. Jeff van Gundy, who was one of the commentators for the Finals on ABC, said it was the least talented of the four Warriors’ teams to win the Finals.
Kerr gave credit to how intensely his team played throughout the season, especially in the Finals.
“I think that comment is all relative. I mean, we had Kevin Durant for three years with this core group. Those teams were untouchable,” Kerr said. “This team has been compared to our first championship team in 2015. Maybe there are some similarities. This is still a really talented group of players. Not taking anything away from Jeff’s comment, but he’s speaking relatively. Our defense was spectacular in this series, especially the last three games; and the Celtics had the best defense in the league, but we were right behind them.
“I think what made this group really special is besides the obvious with Steph was the defensive intensity and versatility, and for that, Draymond is the guy to point to, the leader of it all, but the additions of [Andrew Wiggins], Gary Payton, the return of Klay [Thompson], the emergence of [Kevon Looney], it all factored in.”
The Warriors’ defensive intensity was certainly turned up a notch for the second half of the Finals. They held the Celtics to fewer than 100 points in all three games and forced the Celtics to make a lot of mistakes with the ball. In their-series clinching win, the Warriors forced 23 turnovers from the Celtics, which was tied for the second-most Celtics committed in a game this season.
Offensively, Steph Curry dominated for the Warriors. He scored 34 points in Game 6 and scored 31.2 points per game in the Finals, earning him his first Finals MVP.
But Curry didn’t want to focus on winning the award he won for the first time.
“Forget that question. Why you start with that question? We’ve got four championships,” Curry said when asked about winning Finals MVP for the first time. “God is great, the ability to be on this stage and play with amazing teammates against a great Boston Celtics team that gave us everything to try to get to the finish line.
“This one hits different for sure, just knowing what the last three years have meant, what it’s been like from injuries to changing of the guard in the rosters, Wiggs (Wiggins) coming through, our young guys carrying the belief that we could get back to this stage and win, even if it didn’t make sense to anybody when we said it, all that stuff matters.
“And now we got four championships. Me, [Draymond Green], Klay, and Andre [Igoudala], we finally got that bad boy. It’s special. It’s special. Just all the work that went into it, the faith and belief and everybody in that locker room that’s getting to spray champagne around the locker room, everybody mattered in that process. So I’m just proud of everybody.”
Warriors star guard Klay Thompson told Green following their Game 3 loss to the Celtics that this year’s Finals felt like the 2015 NBA Finals, in which the Warriors went down 2-1 before winning the final three games of the series over the Cavaliers.
“I just knew it,” Thompson said of his comments. “We’ve been here before. It was the same, like deja vu. The same feelings. Like, we couldn’t get into any good flow just like back in 2015 when the Cavs had our number. We just stuck with it and grinded out a tough Game 4.
“Now, to be here – Steph was incredible tonight. I’m so happy for him to get that Finals MVP.”
Green told several Celtics players before they left the court “You’ll be back. No doubt about it.” He also gave kudos to Celtics fans during the trophy presentation.
But Green actually shared that the chants got to him at first.
“Game 3, it just caught me off guard. You’ve heard crowds boo and – I had never heard an entire crowd chant ‘F you Draymond,’” Green said.
Green struggled for the first few games of the series, fouling out three times in the first five games, and found himself on the bench during pivotal minutes in Game 4.
But Green bounced back in Games 5 and 6, scoring 12 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, dishing out eight assists, blocking two shots, and getting two steals in the series clincher.
Green said he noticed Celtics fans weren’t as loud as they were in Game 3.
“What better time to put it together than tonight? I don’t think I hear ‘F you Draymond’ all night,” Green said. ” They couldn’t. It’s easy to chant ‘F you’ when somebody’s having a bad game but can you do that when someone’s having a great game. I didn’t hear much of it tonight, maybe I was just that locked in.
“Second team to close [out the NBA Finals in Boston], right? Why not us? Who better than us? Four times, who better than us?”
Sign up for Celtics updates🏀
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during basketball season.