Our in-house baseball expert Billy J (-1.05 Units) breaks down his best bets for tonight action!
The Golden State Warriors did not waste any time setting the tone in Game 5. They came out swinging and jumped out to an early double-digit lead on their home court and never looked back. At moments it appeared that the Boston Celtics were going to climb back into the game, but they were very brief. The double-digit lead was just enough cushion for the Warriors to sustain the lead they garnered early and hold off any push the Celtics had in store.
This was very impressive as the key to the Warriors victory was on the defense end of the floor. The Warriors held the Celtics to under 100 points (for the second consecutive game) while not allowing more than 20 points in two of the games four quarters. If that was not enough, it was the perfect timing for the supporting cast to step up as Steph Curry easily had his worst shooting performance of the series. And it was not just Steph. No Warriors starter other than Klay Thompson connected on a three-pointer all game. But it was a pleasant surprise to get efficient scoring contributions from starter Draymond Green (8 points on 3 of 6 shooting) and from key bench players Gary Payton III and Jordan Poole (combined for 29 points on 10 of 16 shooting).
As for the Celtics, it was not their defensive effort or efficiency that did them in, but rather the slow offensive start, poor shooting, limited bench production, and turnovers (again). The Celtics committed 18 turnovers (which led to 22 points) against the Warriors 6 turnovers. Jayson Tatum did his part to keep the game in reach before his legs gave out in the fourth quarter tallying 27 points on 10-20 shooting with a team high 10 rebounds. And Marcus Smart did a tremendous job defensively on Steph Curry while at the same time pitching in as the Celtics second leading scorer with 20 points on an efficient 7-15 shooting from the field.
The Warriors can taste it. They have swung the momentum of the series. And it is hard to believe Steph Curry will have a repeat poor offensive performance. But as the Celtics have shown throughout the playoffs, they are resilient and have played some of their best ball with their backs against the wall. First and foremost, the Celtics must minimize the turnovers. I sound like a broken record here, but when they lose the turnover battle, they generally lose. In the three losses the Celtics have in this series, they’re averaging 17 turnovers a game, compared to 12 in their two wins. If the Celtics limit the mental lapses — which many times leads to turnovers — they win this game. Secondly, the Celtics must focus on getting some scoring from the paint or foul line. They are relying too much on perimeter shooting. For the Celtics to extend this series one last final game they must get some interior scoring and free-bees. Thirdly, continue the increased pressure on Curry that was shown in Game 5. Make the supporting cast beat you again. Finally, someone other than Jason Tatum, Jaylen Brown, or Marcus Smart need to contribute on the offensive end. Contributions from the likes of Al Horford or Derrick White will go a long way in making sure Tatum and Brown have the legs to pull through in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics have shown too much pride and resilience for me to think this series ends at Game 6. This one is going to Game 7!
Best Bets for Game 6!
One Unit on Boston Celtics -3.5 -115
One Unit on Andrew Wiggins o7.5 rebounds -150
One Unit on Klay Thompson o19.5 points -130 (Game 6 Klay)
One Unit on Jaylen Brown o6.5 rebounds -125
One Unit on Derrick White o2.5 rebounds +145
One Unit on Jayson Tatum o3.5 three pointers -115