Andrew Wiggins had a career-best game as the Golden State Warriors defeated the Boston Celtics on Friday to even the NBA Finals at two games apiece, and afterward had a simple answer for what unlocked the performance.
In the midst of what is likely the best season of his eight-year NBA career, Wiggins had what could be his best individual game in Game 4 on June 10. He scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds as the Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter, beating the Celtics 107-97 to take back home-court advantage.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Wiggins explained what was behind his career-best game.
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Whatever it Takes
For Wiggins, the objective in Game 4 was simple — do whatever it takes needed to win. In this case, that meant providing an answer for the 47-31 rebounding advantage the Celtics held in Game 3.
“I want to win,” he said, via SI.com. “I know rebounding is a big part of that. I just want to win. And I feel like sometimes we play small. So I just try to go in there and rebound, help the team out.”
Wiggins did more than just rebound against the Celtics. As Warriors head coach Steve Kerr noted, he drew some of the most difficult defensive assignments and played a big role in slowing Jayson Tatum. Though Tatum had a team-high 23 points, it required 23 shots and came with six turnovers.
“Wiggs was fantastic,” Kerr said after Game 4, via SI.com. “To go against Boston, you’ve got to deal with Tatum and [Jaylen] Brown, and they are just powerful, skilled players. Great size. They are coming downhill at you constantly, so we had to have Wiggs out there. I thought he was great defensively.”
Wiggins the Key to Dubs Small-Ball Lineup
As Wiggins hinted, his role in the team’s small-ball lineup is one of the most important. Kerr calls on Wiggins to slide over to power forward when the team has its small lineup on the floor, which requires him to be one of the primary rebounders.
Wiggins has embraced the role. Though Wiggins averages 4.7 rebounds a game for his entire career, he has 7.3 boards per game in the playoffs.
There was little time for Wiggins to adjust to the new role. The small-ball lineup that Kerr introduced in the opening round of the playoffs — which pairs Wiggins with Steph Curry, Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — had never played together before the start of the playoffs as three of the four were dealing with long-term injuries during the regular season.
For Wiggins, who played in just one playoff series in his career before this season, it’s all worth it if the Warriors can win a championship.
“We all just got to do our part. We have a lot of guys that can go in the game and affect the game in different ways, and right now, everything is needed,” Wiggins said after Game 4. “Whatever anybody has to give, you don’t want to look back a couple weeks from now and be like, I should have done that, I should have done that. You’ve got to leave it all on the floor.”
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