Gary Payton II had to work his way up from obscurity to become one of the key players for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The 29-year-old was released four times in six years, played in the G League for six years, and almost applied for the Warriors’ backroom staff in the video production department before finally making the team this season. Check out the top new sportsbooks for betting on game 6!
Payton described the significance of the Warriors’ 104-94 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday at Chase Center when he scored 15 points and distributed five rebounds off the bench.
“Everything,” Payton said to NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke. “It was back against the wall for both teams. We knew this win right here – first team to get back-to-back W’s is going to change the series.”
The Warriors won Games 4 and 5, flipping a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 advantage and setting up a potential champion in Boston on Thursday, June 16.
“We took care of home court,” Payton said. “We got it back. Now go on the road, and get greedy.”
Just making it to the Finals was a huge deal for Payton. When Memphis Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks fouled the guard from behind as he dunked in the second round, the guard’s elbow was fractured.
Given the prognosis, many people, especially coach Steve Kerr, initially assumed that Payton’s career was gone.
“When he was lying there in Memphis, I thought maybe his season was over,” Kerr said after Game 5. “We knew how important he was to us in so many ways.”
Payton’s breakout season was highlighted by his defensive brilliance and tireless work ethic, as he finished with averages of 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 71 games.
“The guy’s a workhorse,” Kerr said. “I’m really thrilled for him with his journey in this league. He’s come a long way, and now he’s getting a chance to shine in the Finals, so it’s awesome.”
However, Payton isn’t jumping for joy just yet. When he was asked how it felt to be on the verge of the Finals, he responded with a smile and a straightforward answer.
“I’ll let you know in a few days.” Check out the best bookmakers for betting on tonight’s game!
While the Warriors looked strong throughout the game, the Celtics started to play like the club that won Games 1 and 3 of the Finals in the second half with both the offense and defense going efficiently. Therefore, Boston started the third quarter on a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the game with 6:27 remaining. The Celtics looked like they could pull off a miraculous comeback and win.
Then, towards the end of the third quarter, Jordan Poole hit a shot that effectively put an end to the Celtics’ hopes. With 12 minutes remaining, it secured the Warriors a one-point advantage they would not relinquish.
The Celtics executed four turnovers and shot only 26.7 percent from the floor with 25 percent from deep in the fourth quarter. It’s been a persistent problem for the Celtics all playoffs. They have had similar problems in the fourth quarter as they did in Game 4 when the game was close.
To claim that Boston’s struggles started in the fourth quarter would be misleading since the team struggled severely in the first half as well, generating nine turnovers. However, they rallied to tie the game late in the third quarter, only to blow a chance to go up 3-2 in the NBA Finals.
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