With the 2021-22 NBA season in the books, the Blue Zone takes one last look at the Duke representatives in the Finals:
Tatum and Celtics fall to Warriors in NBA Finals
The 2022 NBA Finals have concluded and the Golden State Warriors have been crowned NBA Champions after a 4-2 series win over the Boston Celtics. Last Friday, Boston was locked in a competitive Game 4 against Golden State, where Tatum logged a team-high 23 points along with 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks. He shot just 8-of-23 from the field, though, and gave away a game-high six turnovers. The Celtics were unable to stop Stephen Curry, who erupted for 43 points in that game, and entered Game 5 in San Francisco with the series tied at two games apiece because of it.
This time, even if Curry went 0-of-9 from deep and recorded his first playoff game without a made three-pointer, Boston was unable to capitalize and Golden State led by 12 points at the half. The Celtics had a strong third quarter and went on a 19-4 run to take their first lead, but a Jordan Poole buzzer-beating bank three at the end of the period stopped Boston’s advance and gave the Warriors momentum to take control in the final 12 minutes. Though Tatum scored 27 points, shot 10-of-20 from the field and 5-of-9 from three and logged 10 rebounds, he had four of the Celtics’ 18 turnovers and shot just 1-of-5 in the final quarter. After Golden State’s 104-94 win, the California outfit became the only team to beat the Celtics twice in a row this postseason.
Game 6 in Boston had the Celtics’ season on the line as they faced elimination at home. Golden State seemed determined to close the series out, however, and went on a 35-8 run to eventually lead by as many as 22 points. Boston tried rallying back in the second half and at one point cut the deficit to just eight points, but the Warriors held them off to win their fourth title in the last eight years and a first Finals MVP honor for Steph Curry.
It was an uneven series for Tatum, scoring just 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting from the field in Boston’s Game 6 defeat. During the series, he led his team with 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game, but shot just 36.7% from the field and became the first player in NBA history to commit 100 turnovers in a single postseason. Despite a disappointing finale for Celtics fans, Tatum emerged into a solid two-way player, helped his team become one of the top defensive units this season, turned its season around from the No. 11-seed in January to eventual Eastern Conference champions and became the first Eastern Conference Finals MVP in NBA history.
Dunleavy wins Championship with Golden State
The Celtics are not the only team with a former Blue Devil on it. 2001 national champion Mike Dunleavy Jr. has now won a ring with the Warriors as assistant general manager. He entered the 2002 NBA Draft and was selected 3rd overall by Golden State, where he played until 2007. After retiring from professional basketball in June 2017, Dunleavy joined the Warriors organization in late 2018 and was hired as a scout in New York City. He had already established a good relationship with General Manager Bob Myers, who represented Dunleavy as his agent during his playing career.
During the 2019 college basketball season, Dunleavy attended the Big Ten tournament where he saw Michigan’s Jordan Poole play and afterwards became a strong advocate for him within the Warriors organization. Poole was picked 28th in the 2019 NBA Draft, and emerged as a key part of Golden State’s championship run this season. At the start of the 2019-20 season, Dunleavy was promoted to assistant general manager and moved closer to the team’s front office, and as a result was more involved in the team's everyday activities over the past two years. Dunleavy’s ring with the Warriors this year is his first NBA title of his career.
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