Three keys to Warriors defeating Celtics in Game 6 to win NBA Finals

BOSTON — The last time the Warriors had the opportunity to finish the NBA Finals on the road, they swept the Cavaliers into the summer with a 23-point win in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

They have a similar opportunity Thursday night in Boston, where a Game 6 win would end the Celtics and give the Warriors their fourth championship in eight seasons.

This time it will be significantly more difficult for three reasons. First, the Warriors didn’t win their first three games by a total of 35 points like they did against the Cavaliers in 2018. Second, these Celtics are superior to these Cavs. And third, the Warriors aren’t as imposing as they were four years ago.

But they’re mentally locked in, according to coach Steve Kerr.

“I feel a lot of focus and confidence,” Kerr said five hours before Thursday’s tip. “I think our boys are in a good place heading into tonight.”

The outcome of Game 6 is likely to be determined by three specific factors. Here are the keys to victory for Golden State:

Follow the defense

Though Boston finished the regular season with the best defense in the NBA, the Warriors were better in that area in three of their first five games. The result is three wins.

Game 2, apart from the first quarter, showed the textbook path to success. After the Celtics accumulated 30 points and went 50 percent in the opening quarter, the Warriors were limited to 58 points at 33.3 percent, shooting through the last three to complete their most impressive win, 107-88.

Boston stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown shot a combined 8-of-15 from the field in the first quarter and went down to 5-of-21 after that.

The crucial segment was the third quarter, where the Warriors limited the Celtics to 14 points on 4-of-17 shooting – and also forced five turnovers, giving them 11 points.

When Golden State’s defense emerges, the road to victory is paved.

Win the backcourt fight – crucial

At the Warriors, Stephen Curry comes in from Game 5 where he missed all nine of his 3-point shots, meaning Curry will be “angry” for Game 6, according to Draymond Green.

The Warriors also have Klay Thompson in a Game 6. That’s his lucky spot. It’s like his electrolytes are getting together and he’s performing at his best.

They also have Jordan Poole, who has put in solid performances in the last two games and believes there is more in store.

It’s an explosive group, but they may need to do more than just top Boston trio Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Brown, each of whom is a capable scorer.

In Golden State’s three wins, his guards were plus-12 (Game 5), plus-20 (Game 4), and plus-28 (Game 2). The two losses were plus-8 (game 3) and minus-5 (game 1).

A double-digit lead tilts heavily toward the Warriors.

A Draymond game

Green, however, had an uneven streak. Good in two games, common in two games, and cruel in the other — and yet the Warriors have built a three-game-to-two lead.

He will once again be the main target for fans at TD Garden. He’s once again taunted for missing a layup or a 3-pointer, and he’s done both often; He’s 0-of-11 from deep in the finals. His defense, his money element, has steadily returned to normal. Finally, he remembers the fourth quarter bench press in Game 4.

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All of which means he’s ready to show up and deliver big. If he brings exaggerated defensive energy early on, the Warriors can ride that wave. When he dumps a 3-pointer, it’s therapeutic for his overall offensive action.

Few players in NBA history chase victory harder than Draymond. With just one win needed to cement his trophy, it’s hard to believe he’ll let this run pass without making a big impact.

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