Inside the Finals: Celtics fit to be tied, Steph raining 3s
The NBA Finals are tied at 2-2. If that sounds familiar to fans of the Boston Celtics, it should.
For whatever reason, when the Celtics make the NBA Finals, 2-2 ties seem normal. And that’s exactly where they are now, knotted up going into Game 5 of this year’s series against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
This is the 13th time in Boston’s 22 title-series appearances that there has been a 2-2 tie headed into Game 5. In the previous 12 such situations, Boston has won the title nine times — but failed to do so in 1985 and 2010, the last two times in which the Celtics were involved in a tied finals after four games.
Being in a 2-2 finals tie is a bit of a rarity for the Warriors. This is only the second 2-2 tie in the franchise’s 12 finals appearances; the other was in 2015, when Golden State won Game 4 at Cleveland and then claimed the title in six games.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s 137 points so far in this series are the most through four games of any NBA Finals since Kevin Durant also had 137 for the Warriors at this point in 2017.
Curry has 25 3-pointers so far, the most through four games of a finals. There have been seven instances of a player having at least 15 3s in the first four games of a finals — Curry is responsible for six of them, Danny Green (17 in 2013) the other. Curry had the previous most through four games, 22 in 2018.
He had 17 3s through four games in the finals in 2016 and 2017, and 15 3s through four games in the 2015 and 2019 finals.
Curry has the record for most 3s in a finals, making 32 in 2016. He’s on pace to break that regardless of whether this series goes six or seven games.
With their first 3-pointer in Game 5 of the finals, the Celtics will set an NBA record. It’ll be their 307th of the playoffs, the most by a team in a single postseason.
They currently share that record of 306 with the 2016 Warriors.
This season’s Warriors are up to 280 3s in these playoffs. That’s already the fifth-most in a postseason, behind the 2016 Warriors, this year’s Celtics, the 2019 Toronto Raptors (286) and this year’s Dallas Mavericks (284).
The Warriors have a shot at setting the mark for most 3s in a full season, including playoffs. They’ve made 1,456 this season, 39 behind the record set by the 2018-19 Houston Rockets.
Every game in this series has been decided by at least 10 points. It’s the first time that the first four games of an NBA Finals have all been double-digit affairs since the Golden State-Cleveland series in 2016 — when the first six games were that way.
Before that, the most recent time there wasn’t a single-digit margin in the first four finals games was the San Antonio-Detroit series in 2005.
Golden State has seen nine of its last 11 games decided by at least 10 points. The two exceptions just missed; both were nine-point games.
Depending on whether this series goes six or seven games, Boston will play either 106 or 107 games this season.
It’ll be close to a record.
The 2007-08 Celtics played 108 games, which is the most by any team in an NBA season. The 2004-05 Detroit Pistons and 1994-95 New York Knicks played 107, tied for second-most.
Golden State will play either 104 or 105; if the finals go seven games, the 105-game season will be the second-longest in Warriors history. The 2015-16 Warriors played 106 games.
The Warriors reclaimed the home-court advantage in these NBA Finals by winning Game 4 in Boston.
Still unclear: if that matters anymore.
Regardless of what happens in the rest of the finals, this season will finish with teams winning just a smidge under 55% of the time at home.
It’ll be the second-lowest leaguewide home winning percentage in NBA history, somewhere between 54.7% and 54.9% depending on how the last two or three games of this series turn out.
It’s now a trend, too, even though arenas were filled with screaming fans again this season. The two lowest home winning percentages were set in the last two seasons: 54.65% in 2020-21 (when, in fairness, a lot of arenas were empty for much of the regular season because of the pandemic) and 55.1% in 2019-20 (not including games played in the bubble).
Warriors guard Klay Thompson has 99 3-pointers in finals games, two shy of LeBron James for No. 2 on the all-time list.
The record, as would be expected, belongs to Stephen Curry. He’s up to 146 3s in finals games, and counting.
After Curry, James and Thompson, nobody else in NBA history has more than 59 — the totals reached by Danny Green and J.R. Smith.
The NBA’s playoff pool — the bonus money that postseason teams share — was $17.3 million this season. About half of that will be going to the Celtics and Warriors, to split among players and staff however they choose.
If the Celtics win the finals, they’ll receive a total of $4,490,613 from the playoff pool. If they lose the series, they get $3,455,946.
If the Warriors win the title, they get $4,403,194. If they lose in the finals, they’ll receive $3,368,527.
The payouts are slightly more for the Celtics because one of the factors in determining how much a team receives from the pool is based on seeding. The Celtics get $349,660 for being a No. 2 seed. The Warriors get $262,241 for being a No. 3 seed.
Both teams got $258,449 for being in the first round, $307,520 for making the conference semifinals and $508,174 for making the conference finals.
The finals payouts are $3,066,810 to the winning team, $2,032,143 to the losing team.
Among non-finals teams, Miami ($1,511,221) got the biggest payout, followed by Phoenix ($1,502,472).
The minimum payout for playoff teams this season was $258,449.
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