The stakes couldn’t be much higher than they are heading into Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors. Through the first four games of the series, the two teams have alternated wins with the Celtics taking Games 1 and 3 and the Warriors coming out victorious in Games 2 and 4. With the series tied at two wins apiece, Game 5 will likely go a long way toward determining the ultimate victor. Teams that win the fifth game of a best-of-seven series tied at 2-2 go on to win that series over 80 percent of the time.
If the Warriors are going to be the team to take a 3-2 lead, they’re going to need some guys to step up around Steph Curry, who has been phenomenal throughout the series. Curry’s 43-point performance in Game 4 was a masterpiece, but Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole need to do more if the Warriors are going to win their fourth ring under Steve Kerr.
On the other side, the Celtics’ success might very well depend on their ability to slow down Curry — something they haven’t accomplished so far. Perhaps trapping him and forcing the ball out of his hands is the way to go. It’s a strategy that’s at least worth a try. Also, Boston needs to take care of the ball. The Celtics are just 1-6 this postseason in games where they turn the ball over 15 or more times. Conversely, they’re 13-2 when they limit their turnovers to 14 or fewer.
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Given all that’s at stake, Game 5 should be an extremely competitive contest. I’m leaning toward Boston due to its uncanny ability to always bounce back after losses. Here’s how the rest of our experts see it shaking out.
How to watch Game 5 live
- Game: NBA Finals, Game 5
- Date: Monday, June 13 | 9 p.m. ET
- Location: Chase Center — San Francisco, California
- TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (Get access now)
- Odds: BOS +145; GS -170; O/U 212 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics
Celtics vs. Warriors prediction, Game 5 picks
Bill Reiter: The Celtics are younger, more athletic, deeper, better on defense and on a remarkable run of resilience and top-notch basketball since turning their season around toward the end of January. But they don’t have Stephen Curry. And, as we saw in Game 4, nor can they stop him. Klay Thompson has somewhat found his footing, Kevon Looney has been quietly excellent late in games in these Finals, and there’s still time for Draymond Green to have the impact we all expected. But that’s just noise serving as the background music to the fact that Curry is a historically great player, and, like in Boston a few nights ago, he’s not going to let his team lose Game 5, regardless of his supporting cast. Pick: Golden State -3.5 | Warriors 112, Celtics 107
Brad Botkin: I picked Boston to win in seven, but it won’t win Game 5. Curry is too hot, and I think Klay, who has had stretches in which he’s looked about ready to detonate, gets going back home. Draymond has to be better. I’m banking on that. At this point in the series, I don’t think adjustments make that big a difference. Few surprises remain. I’m curious just how long Boston is going to keep dropping (even if they’re efforting to start higher) on Curry, but if that changes up, it could ignite Green as the 4-on-3 playmaker, which could in turn fire him up defensively. That’s something to watch. Anyway, I think Golden State wins this one. Curry is too much right now. Pick: Golden State -3.5 | Warriors 102, Celtics 95
James Herbert: Boston’s the pick. This team bounces back every time it loses, and, more specifically, it bounces back on offense. I expect this to look more like Game 3 than Game 4, especially when it comes to Jayson Tatum’s playmaking. (If I’m wrong because Steph goes wild again, awesome!) Pick: Boston +3.5 | Celtics 114, Warriors 103
Michael Kaskey-Blomain: It’s really tough to pick against Steph Curry given how well he’s played in the series, but his supporting cast has been inconsistent to say the least. Curry can only do so much, especially if Boston alters its defense to try to force the ball out of Curry’s hands, and it’s tough to trust the guys around him to get the job done at this point. Plus, Boston has been stellar coming off a loss this postseason as it’s gone 7-0 in such situations. Jayson Tatum, in particular, has stepped his game up following Boston losses, and he can be expected to do the same in Game 5. Pick: Boston +3.5 | Celtics 106, Warriors 100
Sam Quinn: We’ve reached the point in the series where both teams know each other. We know what the rotations will look like. They’ve learned each other’s playbooks. There aren’t many surprises left here. Here’s the one thing we know somewhat emphatically: Golden State can limit Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown … but Boston can’t do anything to stop Stephen Curry. Plenty of other things can swing a game. Maybe one team’s role players make significantly more shots. Maybe one team gets to the line more often. There are no guarantees in the NBA Finals, but with four games in the books, I’m taking the only constant this series has given us: Curry. Pick: Golden State -3.5 | Warriors 110, Celtics 101
Colin Ward-Henninger: Usually at this point in a Finals series, you can start to throw tactics and adjustments out the window, but that’s not necessarily the case here. Steve Kerr is still playing with rotations, and his choice to separate Draymond Green and Kevon Looney proved useful in Game 4. The Warriors’ half-court offense hasn’t been good, even with Steph Curry’s exploits, but Jordan Poole appears to be turning a corner and they’ll likely get more from Otto Porter in Game 5. The Celtics have played well on the road and after losses, but Golden State knows how important it is to win this game heading back to Boston. Give me the Warriors. Pick: Golden State -3.5 | Golden State 109, Boston 105
Jasmyn Wimbish: Steph Curry was electric in Game 4, but the Warriors needed his absolute best to win. The production Golden State has gotten out of guys like Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins has been so inconsistent, and despite it being at Chase Center I still trust the Celtics a bit more right now. I’m going with them to get the win. Pick: Boston +3.5 | Celtics 110, Warriors 105