NBA: Warriors on the brink of winning title as Andrew Wiggins punishes Celtics

Golden State Warriors' Andrew Wiggins (centre) shoots the ball against the Boston Celtics during their game on June 13, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Andrew Wiggins scored 26 points as the Golden State Warriors battled past the Boston Celtics 104-94 to move within one win of a seventh National Basketball Association championship crown on Monday (June 13).

With Stephen Curry having a rare off night after his 43-point Game 4 heroics, Wiggins seized control to lead a balanced Golden State offensive effort, which leaves the Warriors 3-2 up in the best-of-seven series.

Wiggins delivered a huge performance at both ends of the Warriors' Chase Center court, shooting 12-of-23 while hauling in 13 rebounds with two steals and a block.

The win means the Warriors can clinch the championship when the series heads back to Boston for Game 6 on Thursday.

Wiggins led the Warriors' scorers while Klay Thompson provided support with 21 points including five three-pointers. Gary Payton II (15 points) and Jordan Poole (14) both made double digits from the bench.

Curry, the Warriors' talisman and front-runner for the NBA Finals' Most Valuable Player award, chipped in with 16 points but shot only 7-of-22 from the field, going 0-for-9 from three-point distance.

It was the first time in his play-off career he has failed to score a three-pointer and the first time he has drawn a blank from beyond the arc in any NBA game since 2018.

Jayson Tatum led Boston's scorers with 27 points while Marcus Smart added 20 and Jaylen Brown 18.

But the Celtics, who effectively marked Curry out of the game for long periods, were left ruing another high turnover count of 18 compared to just six from Golden State.

Boston had threatened to produce a repeat of their stunning Game 1 win in San Francisco during a rampant third-quarter display in which they outscored the Warriors 35-24. That electrifying burst of second-half scoring wiped out a 12-point Warriors advantage after the first two quarters.

After a superb Golden State defensive performance in the first half, Boston had been restricted to just 39 points to trail 51-39 at the break.

But the Celtics flipped the switch after the interval, erasing Golden State's advantage in a matter of minutes with back-to-back Tatum three-pointers to get within two at 51-49.

Smart drained another three soon afterwards to tie the game at 55-55 before Al Horford rained in another triple - Boston's eighth straight three-pointer - to give the Celtics their first lead of the game at 58-55.

Boston went on to lead by five points at 66-61 - a 17-point turnaround from half-time - but the Warriors dug deep to respond.

Poole's buzzer-beating three-pointer put the Warriors ahead 75-74 heading into the final period.

The Warriors regrouped in the fourth quarter, Wiggins driving home a lay-up to launch an unanswered 10-0 run by the home team that gave Golden State a hefty 11-point advantage at 85-74.

From there. the Warriors never looked like surrendering the initiative and Wiggins went on to score 10 points as the Warriors closed out a deserved win.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.