3 Warriors unsung heroes from epic NBA Finals Game 4 win vs. Celtics

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3 unsung heroes from Warriors' epic Finals Game 4 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

BOSTON -- Of the Warriors' historic Big Three, Steph Curry stood on top of the mountain Friday night at TD Garden in his team's 107-97 Game 4 win of the NBA Finals vs. the Boston Celtics to even the series at two wins each. His 43-point, 10-rebound performance to go with seven 3-pointers was one for the ages, placing him among the all-time greats.

But when he and the Warriors needed Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to step up, they did so down the stretch in majors ways. Thompson scored eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and played fantastic defense. After sitting for four key minutes, Green brought energy on both sides of the ball the final four minutes of the ballgame, proving yet again why he's the ultimate competitor with some vital moments offensively and defensively.

This win also was about more than the three future Hall of Fame Warriors. Three other players made big-time contributions to the victory, and they deserve their thanks as well. Let's break down what Kevon Looney, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole brought to the table.

Kevon Looney

Whatever Kerr and the Warriors have asked of Looney this season, he has been there. He was the only Golden State player to appear in all 82 regular-season games, starting 80 of them. Looney started the first four games of the NBA playoffs, sat the next six and came away with 22 rebounds upon his return to the starting lineup to put away the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals.

Looney had started the previous eight games going into Friday night when Kerr opted to start Otto Porter Jr. in his place for more offense and floor spacing. It didn't work. Robert Williams and the Celtics crushed the Warriors on the glass to open up the game, and Kerr turned to Looney not even five minutes into the game.

The veteran center came out of the gates fighting for every rebound, giving Golden State exactly what it needed. Looney grabbed five rebounds in the first quarter, went into halftime with nine and finished with 11 -- seven on defense and four on offense. Along with his rebounding prowess, Looney also provided six points, two assists, one steal and one block.

His impact was seen and felt well beyond the box score. It also should be noted that after playing 28 minutes off the bench, he finished as a game-high plus-21 in plus/minus. Looney has been an Iron Horse and Mr. Reliable all season long. That only continued in Game 4 of the Finals.

"Loon is just crucial to everything we do," Kerr said. "He's our best screener, our best rebounder. One of our smartest players. He's always in the right spot. He made, I thought, the biggest bucket in the game after Horford made the three from the corner, Draymond made the pass out of the pocket to Loon, he finished with that left hand.

"So Loon has just grown leaps and bounds this year. He's been really good for us over the years, but this year in particular, he's taken a leap to a point where he's just irreplaceable for us. And he's played in every game, and he's a guy we count on.

"I didn't play him enough in Game 3. That was my mistake. It was important to get him out there, and he had a huge impact on the game."

Andrew Wiggins

Right behind Looney in plus/minus was Wiggins at plus-20. Wiggins played a game-high 43 minutes, guarding Celtics star Jayson Tatum up and down, continuing to frustrate him. Tatum scored 23 points but went 8-for-23 from the field and turned the ball over six times.

Wiggins scored 17 points, his fourth time hitting that exact mark this postseason, and now is averaging 16.0 points in the playoffs. Where he made his biggest mark, though, was on the boards.

The high flier grabbed 16 rebounds. That wasn't just a game high for both sides, it was a new career high for Wiggins. The Warriors trailed the Celtics by five points going into the half, and the way they flipped the script on the glass proved to be a major difference. They outrebounded the Celtics 31-17 in the second half, and Wiggins was responsible for 11 of those.

Game 4 was more than a career night for Wiggins rebounding the ball. It placed him next to one of the greatest Warriors ever. Wiggins became the first Warrior to score at least 17 points and finish with at least 16 rebounds in a Finals game since Nate Thurmond had 17 points and 28 rebounds in Game 5 of the 1967 NBA Finals.

In the regular season, Wiggins averaged 4.5 rebounds per game. He now is up to 7.3 rebounds per game in the playoffs. What has unlocked that side of his game? The answer is simple.

"I want to win," Wiggins said. "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."

Jordan Poole

Poole's up-and-down performances in the playoffs and the Finals have been well documented. The 22-year-old now is a huge part of the Warriors' success, and that was as evident as ever once again on Friday night.

He scored only nine points in their Game 1 loss, followed that with 17 in the Warriors' Game 2 win but scored only 10 points and turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter of their Game 3 loss. Some must-have points from Poole resulted in another Warriors win this time.

With Curry on the bench to open the second quarter, Poole got the scoring going and gave the Warriors the lead with his first 3-pointer of the night. The next time down the floor, he drained another shot from downtown, forcing a Celtics timeout with the Warriors ahead by five after a 6-0 run.

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After playing only two minutes and making his only shot attempt in the first quarter, Poole scored eight points in the second. He also scored four points in the fourth, and both of his made field goals in the final period tied the game. Poole led the Warriors bench with 14 points, going 6-for-13 from the field, and looked much more decisive than the previous game.

"JP, wow, the poise he's been playing with as a 22-year-old throughout these whole playoffs is amazing," Thompson said of Poole after the win.

If the Warriors get these kind of nights from Wiggins, Looney and Poole moving forward on a consistent basis, the smell of a title should tickle their nose that much more. Each gave the Warriors exactly what was required from their given role, and now the Warriors hold the upper hand with the series coming home to Chase Center on Monday for Game 5.

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