BOSTON (AP) — The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions again and on Thursday night led the Boston Celtics 103-90 for their fourth title in the last eight seasons.
Stephen Curry scored 34 points and was named NBA Finals MVP as the Warriors won the franchise’s seventh championship overall. And this one has had a journey like no other, after a streak of five straight playoffs, then a crash to bottom in the NBA and now a return to greatness just two seasons after having the league’s worst record.
“We found a way to just do it,” Curry said after the Warriors accepted the championship trophy and celebrated on the court. “It’s part of a championship pedigree, our experience. … We built this for 10-11 years. That means a lot when you get to that stage.”
It’s a fourth championship for Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. The first three rings came in 2015, 2017 and 2018 when Golden State was dynastic and made the finals five straight years.
Injuries, including one that sidelined Thompson for 2 1/2 years, and roster changes changed everything. But this season, with Thompson returning about halfway through, the Warriors were finally back.
Again at the top. Champions who again denied the legendary Celtics their record 18th championship, one that would have allowed Boston to break a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for most in league history.
This story for the Warriors ended very differently than their last final against Toronto in 2019, which saw Kevin Durant tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 and then Thompson’s cruciate ligament, resulting in the Raptors’ title win in Game 6.
The aftermath of that loss was compounded by Durant’s decision to leave freelance this summer to join the Brooklyn Nets and Thompson’s own Achilles injury while he rehabilitated his knee injury.
“It all paid off,” Thompson said. “It was dog days, many tears were shed. … They knew it was a possibility, but to see it in real time. … It’s crazy.”
It 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 reshuffle their roster — adding a former No. 1 draft pick in Andrew Wiggins, who excelled in his first Finals, along with another rising star in Jordan poole
Everything clicked. It is Golden State coach Steve Kerr’s ninth championship overall after winning five as a player. He is the sixth coach to win four titles, along with Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, John Kundla, Gregg Popovich and Pat Riley.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 34 points. Al Horford added 19. Jayson Tatum finished with 13 points but only shot 6 of 18 from the field. Boston has also committed 22 turnovers and has fallen to 1-8 this postseason when committing 16 or more.
It was just the fifth loss in 22 games in the title series for Boston, who turned his season around to have a chance at that crown. Boston was 25-25 after 50 games, then went into an absolute tear to reach the Finals and nearly win the franchise’s second championship since 1986.
It was the third straight season that things have been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic and while things have been closer to normal, pictures and videos of the championship celebration will forever serve as a reminder that the virus is still a concern was.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was unable to attend the game as he remained within the league’s health and safety protocols regarding the virus. The newly designed Larry O’Brien Trophy – the golden memento of the NBA champions – was presented to the Warriors by Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum instead.
Boston was as much as 22 points behind but went 16-4 in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to 76-66 going into the fourth.
A 3-pointer from Jaylen Brown made it 86-78 with 5:33 to play, but the Warriors never gave up the lead.
Warrior: Walked 19 of 45 from the 3-point line. …Improves to 20-1 if Green makes a 3-pointer.
Celtics: Former Celtic Ray Allen, a member of Boston’s last championship team in 2008, sat on the sidelines. Hall of Famer Robert Parish was also in attendance.
ONE RUN AND ONE ANSWER
The Celtics came out firing and harnessed the energy of a deafening TD Garden crowd to take an early 14-2 lead.
Undeterred, Golden State responded with a 35-8 run that extended into the second quarter en route to a 22-point lead. The Warriors beat the Celtics 27–17 during that period and led 54–39 into the second half when some Celtics fans booed the home team as they left the field.
Boston fought back in the third, but the Warriors found their reach from beyond the arc and connected with six 3s in the quarter.