It all comes down to this for the Boston Celtics. With a win in Game 6 on Thursday night they’ll extend their season, keep their championship hopes alive and force a decisive NBA Finals Game 7. With a loss, their season will come to an end and the Golden State Warriors will win their fourth ring in the past eight years under coach Steve Kerr.
At one point, Boston held a 2-1 lead in the series, but two straight poor performances in the fourth quarter now have them on the brink of elimination. Especially deflating for the Celtics is the fact that they held Steph Curry scoreless from beyond the arc in Game 5 and they still weren’t able to walk away with a win. It seems unlikely that Curry is going to have two consecutive poor shooting performances.
The good news for the Celtics is that they have proved adept at bouncing back after losses in this postseason. They’re 7-1 directly after a loss in the playoffs, with their only loss coming in Game 5 against Golden State. If the Celtics are going to extend their season, they’re going to need to take care of the ball. They had 18 turnovers that led to 22 points for Golden State in Game 5, and that simply isn’t going to cut it against a team as dangerous and explosive as the Warriors. Boston will also need a big-time performance from Jayson Tatum, who has been held under 30 points in every Finals game so far.
If Boston can take care of the ball and get a standout game from Tatum, then perhaps this series will go the distance. Here’ a look at how our experts see Game 6 between Boston and Golden State shaking out.
Celtics vs. Warriors prediction, Game 6 picks
Klay Thompson may have found his shooting groove. Andrew Wiggins has officially resurrected his career, and all the promise that came with being a No. 1 overall draft pick. The Warriors’ defense has found its footing, holding the Celtics to below 100 points in three of the five games played so far in this NBA Finals. And, as you’ve surely heard, Steph Curry has a tendency to respond magnificently when coming off a 3-point-less outing. But the Warriors also have something critical at its disposal that Boston does not: The highs and lows of having been in past NBA Finals, and the lessons they impart. Sure, winning in the past helps to know how to do it again. But just as critical is the Warriors’ memory and experience of blowing a 3-1 series lead in the 2016 NBA Finals – and the first-hand knowledge of why they cannot let Boston off the hook now. Pick: Warriors +3.5 | Warriors 108, Celtics 99