BOSTON ( Associated Press) — The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions once again, topping the Boston Celtics 103-90 on Thursday night for their fourth title in the past eight seasons.
Stephen Curry scored 34 points and was named the NBA Finals MVP as the Warriors claimed the franchise’s seventh overall championship. And it completed a journey like no other, returning to greatness in just two seasons after racing five consecutive finals, then a drop to the bottom of the NBA, and now having the league’s worst ever record.
“We found a way to get it done,” Curry said after the Warriors accepted the championship trophy and celebrated on the court. “It’s part of a championship pedigree, our experience. … We’ve built it for 10-11 years. When you get to this point it means a lot.”
For Curry, Klay Thompson, Drummond Greene and Andre Iguodala, this is the fourth championship. The first three rings came in 2015, 2017 and 2018, when Golden State was dynastic and made five consecutive trips to the finals.
Including injuries that sidelined Thompson for 2 1/2 years, and roster changes changed everything. But this season, with Thompson returning around the midpoint, the Warriors are finally back.
Back on top too. The champions, again, deny the storied Celtics what would have been their record 18th championship, which would have allowed Boston to break the tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in league history.
The story for the Warriors ended very differently than their most recent finals appearance against Toronto in 2019, in which Kevin Durant tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 and then Thompson tore his ACL in Game 5 The Raptors’ title became cleaner. 6.
After that loss, Durant decided to leave free agency that summer to join the Brooklyn Nets and Thompson’s own Achilles injury while rehabilitating a knee injury.
“It all paid off,” Thompson said. “It was dog days, shed a lot of tears. … you knew it was a possibility, but to see it in real time. … this is madness.”
This pushed a Golden State team into a rebuild that became a reload. The Warriors used their two-year hiatus from the NBA’s biggest stages to revamp their roster – adding a previous No. 1 draft pick in Andrew Wiggins, who had made his first appearance with another rising star in Jordan Poole. Outstanding performance in the finals.
It all clicked. For Golden State coach Steve Kerr, this is the ninth championship overall after winning five as a player. He is the sixth coach to win four titles along with Phil Jackson, Rad Orbach, John Kundala, Greg Popovich and Pat Riley.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 34 points. Al Horford added 19. Jason Tatum finished with 13 points, but took just 6 of 18 points off the field. Boston also made 22 turnovers, falling 1-8 on making 16 or more this post season.
It was just the fifth loss for Boston in 22 title-series appearances, turning their season around for a chance at the crown. Boston was 25-25 after 50 games, then went into complete tears to reach the finals and almost claim what would be the franchise’s second championship since 1986.
This was the third season in a row where things were affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, and while things were close to normal, photos and videos of the championship festivities will serve as a forever reminder that the virus was still an issue.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver could not be in the game as he remained in the league’s virus-related health and safety protocols. The redesigned Larry O’Brien Trophy – the golden souvenir given to an NBA champion – was instead presented to the Warriors by Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum.
Boston trailed by 22 points, but went 16-4 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 76-66 and move to fourth place.
A Jaylen Brown 3-pointer made it 86-78 with 5:33 to play, but the Warriors never gave up the lead.
Warriors: 19 off 45 runs from the 3-point line. … improved to 20-1 when Green makes a 3-pointer.
Celtics: Former Celtic Ray Allen, a member of Boston’s last championship team in 2008, sat on the edge of the court. Hall of Famer Robert Parish was also in attendance.
A race, and a reaction
The Celtics fired, riding off the energy from a deaf crowd at TD Garden to take an early 14-2 lead.
Golden State was not shocked and responded with a 35-8 run, which spread into the second quarter on its way to a 22-point lead. The Warriors led the Celtics 27–17 for this period and took a 54–39 lead in the second half, as some Celtics fans booed the home team off the court.
Boston fought back in third, but the Warriors found their limits beyond the arc, connecting on six 3s in the quarter.
More Associated Press NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.