Only three points separated the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors with less than four minutes left in Game 4.
That was a good thing for the Celtics, all things considered. Jayson Tatum wasn’t shooting particularly well (again) while Steph Curry was lights out (again). In a third quarter that will be talked about for years and years, Curry exploded for 14 points, dancing and grooving in a bucket-getting spectacle.
It was magical. It was epic, worthy of a solo Finals mixtape.
Despite all that, the Celtics were just a 3-pointer away from tying the game in the closing minutes, just one shot from making it the scariest scenario that the Warriors would have to face in this series.
Marcus Smart tried a couple of 3s, so did Al Horford and Derrick White, but all bricked. The shot that made these three a roughed up, more potent version of the Celtics Big 3 in Game 1–it betrayed them in Game 4.
For two minutes, the Celtics tried again and again, but this time, the shot wouldn’t fall. The two minutes they can’t shoot anything felt like eternity. It was like watching Boston knock on the door of history, of being the first team to take a 3-1 Finals lead versus Golden State, but only to get shut down by destiny.
Game 4 wasn’t for the Celtics. They did a lot of things right except the biggest thing they needed to do: score in the final frame. They only scored six compared to the Warriors’ 21.
Up four with five minutes left, the Celtics were looking good, but also looking dangerously close from being blown out in an instant. That’s just how it is playing against the Warriors.
The worst happened at the worst time for Boston as they missed their next six attempts. Golden State, on the other hand, dropped 10 straight points and that was it. In the last 12 minutes, Boston was outscored 28-19.
Tatum ended up with 23 points for the game, but he also missed 15 of his 23 attempts. Worse, six of Boston’s 16 turnovers were under Tatum’s watch.
If only Boston took care of the basketball, if only Smart, Horford, and White hit their 3s, and if only Curry was a tad less nuclear, then maybe Banner No. 18 is at its closest than it's ever been.
That’s a lot of if onlys—and it will continue to pile up as the series now turns into a best-of-three. Two more wins is all it takes.
The Celtics have beaten the Warriors twice already, in ways that are simply remarkable and awesome. If only they can do it two more times, then these Celtics could claim a spot in history’s greatest of all-time.