The Boston Celtics let an amazing opportunity slip away in Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals.
The Celtics led halfway through the fourth quarter and seemed poised to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors. But the C's couldn't close the deal, and the veteran Warriors capitalized with a championship-like stretch to even the series with a 107-97 win at TD Garden on Friday night.
The Warriors improved to 6-0 after a loss in the playoffs, and they have Stephen Curry to thank for it. He gave an all-time performance Friday night with 43 points in 41 minutes. It was arguably the best game of his career.
Game 5 is Monday night at Chase Center in San Francisco.
Before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Game 4.
1) Steph Curry gives MVP-like performance
The Warriors will go as far as Curry takes them, and at this rate, that could be hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy next week.
Curry led all scorers with 43 points on 14-of-26 shooting, including a 7-of-14 mark from 3-point range. The Warriors trailed by five at halftime and Curry helped them storm back with 14 points in the third quarter.
He's been on fire from beyond the arc in this series:
- Game 1: 7-of-11
- Game 2: 5-of-12
- Game 3: 6-of-11
- Game 4: 7-of-14
Normally you'd expect this type of production from the greatest shooter of all time, but let's not forget Curry is doing this against the No. 1 ranked defense, one that led the league in opponents' 3-point percentage during the regular season.
Curry will finally get his Finals MVP trophy if the Warriors win the series. He's averaging 34.3 points on 49.8 percent shooting through four games.
2) Late-game execution fails Celtics again
The Celtics have had issues executing at a high level late in close games all season, and this weakness reared its ugly head at a very unfortunate time for Boston.
The Celtics led 91-86 with 6:45 left in the fourth quarter. The Warriors then went on a 11-3 run to take a 97-94 lead. It was the type of stretch that you'd expect from a Warriors team with loads of championship experience and facing a potential 3-1 series deficit.
Boston just couldn't buy a basket from 3-point range. After Marcus Smart gave the Celtics a 94-90 lead with 5:18 remaining, the Celtics missed five consecutive shots from beyond the arc. The Celtics' offense completely fell apart when it mattered most. They shot 7-of-21 (4-of-12 from 3-point range) in the quarter.
The Warriors finally put together a strong fourth quarter and outscored the Celtics 28-19, including a 17-3 run to close the game.
3) Jayson Tatum still looking for elite Finals game
Tatum has yet to have a superstar-like performance in the NBA Finals, and the Celtics might need one if they're going to win this series.
He scored 23 points on 8-for-23 shooting in Game 4, along with 11 rebounds and six assists. Tatum also was sloppy with the ball and committed six turnovers, several of which led to Warriors points.
The Celtics needed a strong effort from Tatum in the fourth quarter to take a 3-1 series lead, but he scored just three points on 1-of-5 shooting over the last 12 minutes. He settled for bad shots and didn't attack the basket enough.
Tatum is scoring 22.2 points per game in the Finals -- his lowest average in any series during the 2022 playoffs. He's also shooting a lackluster 33.4 percent from the field against the Warriors.
There's still time for Tatum to take over this series, but the Celtics cannot afford for him to have any more underwhelming performances, especially with the Warriors stealing home court advantage back Friday night.