Golden State Warriors are just one game away from claiming another NBA title, with the Western Conference champions leading 3-2 going into Game 6 on Friday.
The two teams are back in Boston and with the Championship on the line, it promises to be another fascinating and thrilling clash at TD Garden.
What: NBA Finals - Game 6
Where: TD Garden, Boston
When: 02:00, Friday 17th June 2022
How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Arena and bet365's Sports Live Streaming
Odds: GS Warriors 29/20, BOS Celtics 20/33
Golden State grabbed the series lead for the first time with their 94-104 victory in Game 5 on Tuesday, which looks crucial at this stage of the Finals.
All eyes were on Steph Curry for two reasons last time out, with concerns over his fitness and the fact he was coming off a 43-point haul in Game 4.
If you had told 99 per cent of basketball fans that Curry would only score 16 points and not shoot a three-pointer in an NBA match since November 2018, they would have surely expected to see a Celtics win.
But Andrew Wiggins (26) and Klay Thompson (21) stepped up to deliver when needed and seal what looks like a crucial win for GSW, who are going for their fourth title in eight years.
As the old saying goes "you can't keep a good man down" and there is every chance the Point guard, who will have had his pride hurt despite the win, will be back with his A-game at TD Garden.
Last time GSW needed a Game 6 to win the Finals was back in 2014-15, with Curry firing 25 points to see off the Cleveland Cavaliers. The three-time NBA champion can be backed at 20/23 to score over 28.5 points on Friday.
The most telling stat of this year's Finals is that Boston have scored under 100 points in three of the five games to date, with the Warriors defensive plan managing to stifle the Celtics.
Jayson Tatum was amongst the top-10 points scorers in the league during the regular season, averaging 26.9 per game.
But in the Finals, the Small Forward has not been able to post the big numbers and his scoring run in the first five games reads 12-28-26-23-27.
The finger can't just be pointed at Tatum, with several of the Celtic's top stars unable to hit the heights against the more experienced Warriors.
Jaylen Brown is averaging 22.6 points per game throughout the season, but the Shooting Guard has only once scored over 24 points in the five games to date.
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Coach Ime Udoka admitted that he was 'leaving it up to the guards' to take the responsibility of how to make different plays to try and stop Curry. That seemed to work in Game 5 but even then, the Celtics couldn't take advantage and now face losing with a game to spare.
Boston went into the Finals with the number one ranked defence in the league, but it's been their attacking threat that Golden State has halted.
The Celtics are still managing to limit GSW, who have averaged 105 points per game during the Finals, which is 10 fewer than they scored in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.
But the Warriors' ability to crowd the Boston offence threat has caused no end of problems for the Celtics, who suffered 18 turnovers during Game 5 in San Francisco.
The frustration is also starting to show amongst the Boston players, with Tatum shooting 56 per cent in the first quarter of the Finals games, compared to just 24 per cent in the fourth quarter.
Heading into Friday's clash, the previous Finals stats don't make good reading for the Celtics – who need to win to stay alive.
Only one of the last nine Finals has gone to a Game 7 – Cleveland beating Golden State 4-3 in 2016, with the Cavs coming back from 3-2 down to take the title!
It is ominous for Boston that 83.8 per cent of teams that hold a 3-2 lead in the play-offs go on to win the series, although the Celtics can take heart from the fact that they came back from 3-2 down against Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Their franchise is the only team to have twice turned around a 3-2 deficit in Finals, beating the Lakers in 1962 and then again in 1969.
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