How Poole’s buzzer beater spurred Warriors’ fourth-quarter spurt to beat Celtics

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s no secret Jordan Poole has a thing for theatrics. But his latest buzzer beater might be the most important shot he’s hit this postseason.

The Warriors were in need of a spark after stumbling in the third quarter of Game 5 Monday night, and Poole answered the call.

After the Warriors blew a 12-point halftime lead over the Celtics, Poole fired off a 38-foot heave as the clock expired to salvage a 75-74 Golden State edge entering the fourth quarter.

The shot was reviewed by officials to make sure he got it off in time — he did — but Poole wasted no time before reveling in his latest highlight-worthy basket with the electric Chase Center crowd as he wagged his tongue, yelled and high-fived fans sitting courtside.

Poole went on to help steady the Warriors when Stephen Curry wasn’t on the floor. His 3-pointer extinguished the Celtics’ momentum and spurred the Warriors’ 10-0 run to start the fourth. The third-year guard scored five of his 14 points during that outburst to open the final quarter as the Warriors went on to beat the Celtics 104-94 to take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals.

After the win, coach Steve Kerr said the Warriors’ response to the Celtics’ hot third-quarter start, which Poole played a substantial role in, was “the most important part of the game.” Shortly before his third-quarter finisher, Poole made a 3-pointer off a bounce pass from Curry to cut the Celtics’ lead to one.

“They came and just stormed right through us in that third quarter… and that was a crucial part of the game for us to respond to that,” Kerr said. “Jordan hit a couple big ones late third and then had a good stretch to start the fourth as well.”

Poole has never shied away from having the ball in his hands as the game clock winds down. This is the second buzzer-beating bomb he’s dropped at the end of the third quarter in this series alone.

In a Game 2 win at Chase Center, Poole launched another 38-foot missile to cap Golden State’s third-quarter surge in a win that evened the series at 1-1.

Another unforgettable shot by Poole came during his freshman season at Michigan when he drained a game-winning last-second shot to help the Wolverines advance to the Sweet 16 over Houston in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

What is it about those moments that enable him to rise to the occasion?

“As for the shots, end of shot clock or ends of quarters, I always want those and my teammates look for me on those,” Poole said. “The sliders kind of go up as the clock goes down. Continue to be aggressive and look for my shot and just be the moment, I guess.”

Poole has been rocky in the playoffs after a breakout run at the end of the regular season. But he’s shown flashes of his great potential as the Finals series has unfolded. Poole, 22, became the youngest player to make five 3-pointers in a Finals game during Golden State’s blowout win in Game 2. On Monday night, Poole made a trio of baskets from downtown, shooting 50% from 3-point land.

“We have five games under our belt now, so seeing some coverages and getting more used to how they guard,” Poole said, “so getting more comfortable as the series gets on.”

The Warriors are one win away from winning their fourth title in eight years, but that didn’t change the postgame mood of the locker room, according to Poole.

“We’re one game closer but we still have got another 48 to go out there and play,” Poole said. “Stay locked in. Stay extremely focused and look at our adjustments and find ways to get better. We have to go get a big one on the road, and we feel like we are fully capable of that, but the job is not done yet obviously, we have one more we want to win.”

Contributed by local news sources

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