SAN FRANCISCO — In Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, a former Jayhawk was the difference maker for the Golden State Warriors.
Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins led the team with 26 points and 13 rebounds for his sixth double-double this postseason and a Game 5 victory to take a 3-2 series lead.
“It’s something I dreamt about for sure, being in the league, and this is the ultimate stage,” Wiggins said. “It doesn’t get bigger than this.”
This was the first time in Wiggins’ career that he led his team in points and rebounds in the playoffs.
The former Kansas one-and-done made up for a lackluster performance from Warriors guard Stephen Curry who was coming off a 43-point performance in Game 4.
Wiggins added an exclamation point to his performance in the dying moments of the fourth quarter.
With just over two minutes left in the game and the Warriors leading by 13, Wiggins dribbles the ball up the court as the clock ticks away. Near mid-court, he finds a lane and skips past Celtics guard Derrick White and takes off for an emphatic slam.
Defensively, Wiggins has been tasked with matching up with Boston’s Jayson Tatum. Despite Tatum’s 27 points, most came on contested shots and his 4 turnovers in Game 5 made him the player with most turnovers in a single postseason.
Wiggins landed in Golden State via a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he began his career.
The Canadian-born Jayhawk was the first-overall draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he was immediately traded to the Timberwolves.
Many have regarded Wiggins as a bust for not living up to first-overall potential, but the 2022 NBA All-Star and the Warriors are now one win away from a championship.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals tips off on Thursday, June 16 at 9 p.m. from TD Garden in Boston. If necessary, Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday, June 19 at 7 p.m. from Chase Center.