Celtics collapse again in the fourth quarter, lose Game 5 to go down 3-2 in NBA Finals

The Celtics reached a frustrating point in the fourth quarter of Game 5. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Celtics stormed back from a 16-point first-half hole to take the lead in the third quarter.

That wasn’t enough though to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals. After the Celtics dominated for much of the third quarter, Jordan Poole hit a buzzer-bear near midcourt for the second time in the series to give the Warriors a one-point lead in the fourth. The Celtics never recovered.

The Warriors began the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run with their star point guard Steph Curry on the bench. Frustration over missed calls boiled over for the Celtics as Marcus Smart got hit with a technical at one point during the eight-plus minute stretch in which they scored just five points.


As the Celtics continued to miss shots and turn the ball over, the Warriors kept a comfortable lead – even with Curry scoring just 16 points on 7-of-22 shooting. The Celtics’ 18 turnovers and 21-of-31 free-throw shooting ended up being far more costly as the Warriors won 104-94 to go up 3-2 in the NBA Finals.

Andrew Wiggins was able to step up in Curry’s place, scoring 26 points on 12-of-23 shooting. Jayson Tatum got off to a hot start in the third quarter, but his 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting wasn’t good enough for the Celtics.

Boston faces elimination for the fourth time this postseason. Of course, it has the first three times it faced elimination. Game 6 is on Thursday night at TD Garden.

Here’s everything that happened in Game 5.

Fourth quarter

2:04: Andrew Wiggins drops a thunderous slam on Derrick White to extend the Warriors’ lead to 15. That should do it tonight and the Celtics will face another 3-2 deficit.

4:40: Missed free throws are also killing the Celtics along with their 18 turnovers. Tatum just missed a pair and the Celtics have scored only five points through seven-plus minutes in the fourth. One has to think if exhaustion is getting to them as Tatum and Brown have played the entire second half to this point.


Tatum also had a weird moment with Draymond Green after the Celtics called time, as Green followed Tatum to the Celtics’ bench.

5:53: Brown commits turnovers on two straight possessions. Tatum airballs a contested mid-range jumper. Andrew Wiggins has two buckets driving to the rim to extend the Warriors’ lead to 11.

It’s been the kind of night for the Celtics.

7:44: A pair of bad Warriors misses are keeping the Celtics in the game. Celtics take advantage with a Jaylen Brown make and Tatum got fouled by Draymond Green, which was his fifth, to send him to the line. Tatum made the first and the Warriors called time in between free throw attempts. Steph Curry is likely coming back into the game following the break.

A made free throw by Tatum here will make it an 85-78 game.

9:16: Marcus Smart gets hit with a T after the Celtics drew an offensive foul. And then he drew an offensive foul on an in-bounds. He appeared to get the raw end of the deal though as Poole exaggerated the contact.

9:30: The Celtics’ comeback efforts have reached a stalling point. Tatum drove to the rim and tried to initiate contact before getting a layup off, but traveled. Then, Thompson hit a 3-pointer after Smart tried to draw a call on a push-off, giving the Warriors an eight-point lead.


10:12: Derrick White misses two 3-pointers and finds himself back on the bench. Smart misses wildly on a layup. Celtics trail by five now.

End of the third quarter: Warriors 75, Celtics 74

The third quarter of Game 5 ends in the same way that Game 2 did. Jordan Poole got a pass from a few feet within the timeline and made a 3-pointer right at the buzzer. He needed the glass this time, but it gives the Warriors the lead back.

Meanwhile, the Celtics have to be satisfied with their third quarter. It’s the first third quarter they’ve won so far this series and Tatum and Brown are in a flow offensively. Klay Thompson, who scored some key buckets in the third, has four fouls, too.

2:05: Both teams going back and forth as Klay Thompson helps break the Warriors’ streak of 14 missed 3-pointers. Robert Williams gets a dunk though to keep the Celtics’ lead at three.

6:27: And Al Horford makes it eight straight made 3-pointers for the Celtics to give them their first lead of the night, 58-55. Warriors call a timeout.

6:53: Marcus Smart connects on a 3-pointer, the seventh made in a row for Boston, and the game is tied 55-55.

10:15: We might be seeing fortunes change tonight.

The Warriors have dominated the third quarter this series. However, it’s the Celtics who are off to a 10-0 run to start the half. Jaylen Brown’s been aggressive, getting to the free-throw line for two pairs of free throws. Jayson Tatum’s made a pair of 3s and the Celtics’ defense has been aggressive and attacking to start the half.


The Warriors call time as the Celtics trail by just two, 51-49.

Halftime thoughts

  • The Celtics played a pitiful first half offensively. There are several poor offensive stats that tell the story. They missed their first 12 3-pointers, which is the most 3-pointers missed to start a Finals game in the last 25 years, according to Elias Sports Bureau. They’re just 4-for-9 from the free-throw line with Tatum missing his only two. They already have nine turnovers and as we know, 16 is the magic number for a Celtics loss this postseason. Boston has to get out of its own way in order to win this game.
  • Jaylen Brown likely played his worst half of basketball this offseason. He’s scored four points on 2-of-10 shooting with three turnovers. Many of his shots have been contested in isolation with very little rhythm or flow to his offensive game so far.
  • After he was passive in his first stint of the game, Tatum got aggressive when he re-entered the game late in the first. He’s 5-of-6 on 2-point shots, getting downhill with success a bit more in Game 5. While he has a team-high 13 points, he only has one assist to two turnovers, making a couple sloppy passes.
  • Andrew Wiggins is taking advantage of the Celtics around the paint, scoring 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting from within the arc.
  • Boston’s defensive approach has been fine so far. Curry hasn’t had many easy looks and has scored just 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting so far.

Halftime: Warriors 51, Celtics 39

The Celtics didn’t let the game get out of control, but they didn’t get back into it either in the final minutes of the first half. Curry scored six points in the final two-plus minutes while the Celtics finally made a few 3-pointers before the break to keep them within striking distance.

3:09: Tatum gets the pair of free throws he was looking for. He missed both though. Wiggins gets the bucket on the other end to give Golden State a 43-32 lead.

4:54: Some brutal basketball right now. The Celtics are shooting 3s and can’t make any. They’re 0-for-11 so far tonight from there. The Warriors have scored just two points in the last several minutes.

8:36: The Celtics are on a bit of a run. Marcus Smart checked in for Payton Pritchard and has been attacking the rim, giving him four points. Tatum made a mid-range jumper while attacking Jordan Poole in isolation. The 6-0 run for Boston led Kerr to call time. Celtics still trail, 32-24.

9:57: Tatum’s errant pass to Robert Williams led to two Draymond Green free throws. Williams ran to make up ground but whacked Green as he attempted a dunk.

10:18: Payton Pritchard looks overmatched tonight. He’s missed three open 3-pointers and the Warriors are starting to pick on him defensively. It hasn’t led to points yet for the Warriors, but it hasn’t looked good for him.

12:00: As we await the start of the second quarter, here’s a not so fun fact for the Celtics:

End of first quarter: Warriors 27, Celtics 16

What was looking like an encouraging end to the first quarter ended in a thud.


Jayson Tatum scored six straight points for the Celtics. Boston appeared to hold off Golden State on the final possession. However, the officials miscalled Curry’s shot going out of bounds on Robert Williams when the Celtics center didn’t touch the ball. With 0.5 seconds left, Williams fouled Wiggins on a shot. Celtics coach Ime Udoka got T’d up for a relatively mild disagreement with the call.

Luckily for Boston, Curry missed the technical free throw and Wiggins went 1-of-2.

2:37: Payton Pritchard checks in and steps out of bounds after catching an in-bounds. That kinda night for the Celtics so far.

2:55: Some terrible offense by the Celtics right now. Brown missed a mid-range jumper early in the shot clock and Smart tosses the ball in the air right to the Warriors. They trail 22-8.

4:46: Brown scores and gets fouled by Looney. Kerr leaves his center in the game despite the early major foul trouble.

4:54: Kevon Looney checked in the game in the last timeout. Tatum went at him a couple times but didn’t have much success. However, Looney just picked up his second foul. He remains in the game while Tatum comes out.

17-6 Warriors.

7:28: The Warriors’ intensity seems to be at a whole other level right now. The Celtics can’t get anything easy on the offensive end to start, with their last possession ending with Jaylen Brown getting blocked by Andrew Wiggins – who came over to block the shot with Brown already being guarded.

On the ensuing possession, Draymond Green got an easy dunk to put the Warriors up 12-4. Timeout Celtics.


9:08: Not a good start for the Celtics, who already have multiple turnovers. Tatum picked up a take foul on the lastest one as the Warriors lead 10-4.

11:40: Otto Porter gets the game’s first bucket on a tough layup and Jayson Tatum tosses the ball out of bounds on the Celtics’ first possession.

12:00: The Warriors win the tip and Game 5 is underway!

Pregame news and notes

9 p.m.: Just moments away from tip of the biggest Celtics game in well over a decade. A win for them tonight sets the stage for a possible party in the city on Thursday.

8:50 p.m.: The Warriors are 3.5-point favorites for tonight’s game. The home team has been favored by roughly that many points in every game so far this series.

8:35 p.m.: The Warriors will start Otto Porter Jr. instead of Kevon Looney again in Game 5. This is a bit surprising considering the Celtics owned the interior in Game 4 when Kerr inserted Porter into the starting lineup, which made up re-insert Looney just minutes into the game.

8:30 p.m.: The Celtics will roll with their usual starting lineup of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams.

8:25 p.m.: Celtics radio play-by-play announcer Sean Grande reminds us just how historically well the Celtics have been on the road over the last few months.

8:10 p.m.: The question of how the Celtics should guard Steph Curry was the biggest topic between Games 4 and 5. Celtics coach Ime Udoka implied on Sunday that his team will likely continue to guard him the way they have and not send doubles off screens.


“We want them above the 3-point line and at the 3-point line at the lowest,” Udoka said. “We are leaving it up to our guards. A lot of responsibility where they want to pick him up in pressure and mix up his pickup point. Understanding they can make some unders that have been quite successful against him, if it’s high enough. If not, force him in and rearview contest. Get the onus on those guys more than anything.

“Their bigs are not really getting out quick rolling. So we can show a crowd there and really try to set the screens and free them up as much as possible more so than rolling so our bigs don’t have to worry about dropping.”

8 p.m.: Jayson Tatum’s been paying homage to many sports icons during the Celtics’ run to the Finals. His fit for Game 5 pays tribute to another.

7:25 p.m.:

  • Celtics center Robert Williams is available for Monday’s Game 5. While Williams has played in the last eight games, there were some questions if he’d be able to go for Game 5 after he asked to leave Game 4 early. Williams had his best performances since he tore his meniscus in late March in Games 3 and 4. On Friday, he had seven points in 12 boards, playing in a playoff-high 31 minutes before asking out early.
  • Everyone is also available to go for the Warriors.
  • This is the 31st NBA Finals to be tied 2-2 through the first four games. In the first 30 such instances, the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win the series 22 times.
  • The Celtics have yet to lose back-to-back games this postseason, going 7-0 in such games. They’re also 8-3 on the road during this playoff run. A Celtics win in Game 5 would tie the record for most playoff wins in a postseason.
  • The Warriors are 10-1 at home during their playoff run. Their one home loss? Game 1 against the Celtics.


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