7 takeaways as Steph Curry, Warriors beat the Celtics to claim NBA title

Celtics

“Every possession is purposeful. It seemed the other locker room realized that.”

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Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors celebrates against the Boston Celtics. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Here are the takeaways as the Warriors defeated the Celtics 103-90 in Game 6, finishing off an impressive Finals run.

1. Before we get to the Celtics (and I promise we will) we probably need to have a real conversation about where Steph Curry lands in the top 10 (because he’s unquestionably a top 10 player). He breaks the game in ways nobody broke it before him and nobody has broken it since, even as the 3-point shot takes over the game. He is the greatest shooter we’ve ever seen, and nobody is close, but he’s also an elite ball-handler, an elite passer, an elite finisher, and an increasingly solid defender. He is a flawless offensive basketball player who holds his ground on the defensive end.

And in the end, Curry scored 34 points in the closeout game against the Celtics on Thursday, including six 3-pointers. For six games, he kept folding and creasing the Celtics’ league-best defense until finally, they fell apart.

That’s what happens when you face a superstar who is still at the peak of his powers, even at the age of 34, because there’s no denying what Curry just did. He might not have had his best regular season, but he led the Warriors through the playoffs, and he decimated a very formidable opponent in the Finals.

“We’ve got four championships,” Curry marveled at his postgame press conference. “God is great, the ability to be on this stage and play with amazing teammates against a great Boston Celtics team that gave us everything to try to get to the finish line.

“This one hits different for sure.”

Give Steph Curry his credit — all of it. He has now won four titles, and while many people want to take credit away from him for two of them, the team he had around him this year should more than make up the difference.

2. Once again, turnovers and offensive rebounds were a major issue for the Celtics on Thursday. As a team, they finished with a staggering 22 turnovers, and the Warriors grabbed 15 offensive rebounds — several of which resulted in 3-pointers from Jordan Poole and Curry. After a late run in the third quarter cut a big lead down to 10, the Celtics started the fourth with yet another turnover.

As great as Curry was in this series, there’s little denying the extent to which the Celtics threw the ball — and perhaps the series — away.

“Every possession is purposeful,” Robert Williams said. “It seemed the other locker room realized that; we didn’t. They had a meaning to everything they were doing.”

3. Jayson Tatum finished a disappointing Finals performance with 13 points on 6-for-18 shooting and five turnovers. The Warriors keyed in on him and seemed to take him out of his comfort zone.

Jaylen Brown played hard and kept the Celtics alive with 34 points on 12-for-23 shooting, but he too struggled with five turnovers as the Celtics’ offense fell apart.

Brown was asked about his message for Tatum after the game.

“Just gave him a hug, man,” Brown said. “I know it was a tough last game. I know, obviously, it was a game we felt like we could have won. It stings that we kind of didn’t play to our potential. This game, the last game on our home floor.

“But it is what it is. You got to learn from it and move on. As tough as it is, it’s been a great year, been a great journey. The start of the season nobody thought we would be here. Two games away from doing something special.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Man, we really could have done it, really had the opportunity.’ Yeah, we did. Just wasn’t our time.”

4. Udoka expects Tatum to learn from his experience — Tatum shot well from 3-point range at 45.5 percent, but he shot 36.7 percent overall as the Warriors stifled him inside the arc.

“You’re an All-Star, All-NBA First Team guy for a reason,” Udoka said. “This is only the start of how you’re going to be guarded and the attention you’re going to draw. One thing that he’s always done throughout the season was seeing multiple different coverages and figured it out. He did that throughout the first few series. This was a rough one. Very consistent team that did some things to limit him and make others pay.

“For him, it’s just continuing to grow and understand you’re going to see this the rest of your career. This is just a start.”

5. Robert Williams was asked what he needs to do to come back healthy next year, and whether he needs any further procedures.

“Rest,” Williams said simply.

6. Al Horford made his first Finals appearance, and he tried to keep the Celtics alive in the second half — he scored 12 of his 19 points in the third quarter and went 4-for-5 from the field, 3-for-4 from three. But the Warriors punished the Celtics’ bigs with their speedy, skilled guards throughout the series.

“It’s difficult,” Horford admitted. “Obviously for me, looking at this great opportunity in front of us, it just wasn’t meant for us this year. We really fought hard.

“I feel like we can hold our heads high. We gave everything that we could. For me, I’m looking forward to next year. It’s a big summer for us as a team, individually, to get better, to improve on this and for us to take it to another level.”

7. For the Celtics — and their fans — this loss will hurt … a lot. It should. Finals runs don’t happen often, and when they end in a loss, one can’t help but wonder if an opportunity was permanently missed.

“Probably that stuff never goes away,” Udoka said. “I’ve lost one before. That was part of the message. Let it propel us forward, the experience. Growth and progress that we made this season. Obviously, getting to your ultimate goal and falling a few games short is going to hurt. There are a lot of guys in there, very emotional right now. …

“Just don’t come back the same as players, coaching staff. Let this fuel you throughout the offseason into next year.”

But as the summer goes on, fans (and, frankly, the Celtics themselves) should be reminded of what they have in this team — a largely homegrown group of likable players who have improved drastically over the course of their careers. Tatum, Brown, Williams, Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Grant Williams, and Payton Pritchard should all be around for a while. Al Horford should be back next year. The Celtics are in a position to make a run again, and next year, they can be judged for what happens to their core going forward.

For now, the Celtics were a juggernaut that turned their season around and made a deep run. They were Eastern Conference champions who came up short (in admittedly disappointing fashion) against one of the greatest players of all time who put an exclamation point on a dynastic run.

The loss might make celebration impossible, but this team earned a great amount of appreciation from anyone who paid attention the whole season.

“We know what it feels like to get to this point,” Tatum said. “Like Smart said, getting here and not accomplishing it, it’s tough. You don’t want to feel like this again, but you want to get back here.

“So to answer your question, yeah, it’s going to fuel us.”

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