NBA Finals

NBA Finals Preview: Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics

A complete guide to the 2022 NBA Finals.

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With the Boston Celtics’ defeat of the Miami Heat on Sunday evening, the 2022 NBA Finals matchup is officially set. Boston’s decisive Game 7 victory secured them a date with the resurgent Golden State Warriors for the ultimate prize: the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The Warriors and Celtics split their regular-season matchups, with each team winning on the other’s home court. Interestingly enough, since Steve Kerr took the reigns as head coach of the Warriors in 2015-16, Boston is the only team with a winning record against him.

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Kerr’s Warriors are known for their juggernaut offensive game, while the Celtics have two burgeoning offensive stars of their own in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. However, despite the offensive firepower, the main themes of this year’s NBA Finals will be defense and depth. This is the first Finals to feature the top two teams in defensive efficiency since the Bulls and Supersonics faced off in 1996.

Golden State is back for their sixth Finals in the last eight years after missing out in the last two seasons. Unlike their dynastic run from 2015 to 2019, this Warriors team never quite seemed like a lock to make the Finals this season. They struggled mightily with injuries as Stephen Curry (foot), Klay Thompson (ACL and Achilles), and Draymond Green (back) all missed time this year. Aside from the absence of defensive starlet Gary Payton II, the Warriors are at near-full strength at just the right time.

En route to the Finals, the Warriors knocked out MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, Ja Morant’s Grizzlies, and Luka’s Mavericks. Golden State looks to add a fourth ring to their NBA dynasty and cement themselves among the league’s greatest franchises. Further, Stephen Curry seeks the one trophy his illustrious collection lacks: a Finals MVP award. For both of those things to happen, the Warriors’ offense must minimize their turnovers while spreading the floor to capitalize on timely three-point shooting. More importantly, Steve Kerr and the Warriors have to find a way to navigate Boston’s switch-heavy defense if they want to add another ring to their collection.

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First-year head coach Ime Udoka brought the Celtics a long way since a mediocre 25-25 start. Boston tapped into something special on the defensive side of the ball in the back half of the season, winning 26 of their final 32 games. The 2022 Playoffs have served as a revenge tour for the C’s after years of knocking on the door. Take a look at how their last three season’s ended alongside the route they took to the Finals this season.

2019: Eliminated by Bucks in Eastern Semi-Finals
2022: Defeated Bucks in Eastern Semi-Finals
2020: Eliminated by Heat in Eastern Finals
2022: Defeated Heat in Eastern Finals
2021: Eliminated by Nets in Round 1
2022: Defeated Nets in Round 1

Jayson Tatum powered past some of the league’s best forwards amidst his ascension to superstardom. But he isn’t alone. Boston’s depth has been a key to their run. They’ve got the Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart, a legitimate two-way star in Jaylen Brown, a dirty work savant in Grant Williams, and a level-headed, high IQ veteran in Al Horford. Moreover, this Celtics team is resilient. Boston hasn’t lost back-to-back games this postseason, and they’ve already won two Game 7’s. They entered the season as 50-1 long shots to win the title. Based on preseason odds, a victory would make the C’s the biggest long shot to win the title in 35 years.

To beat Golden State, Boston’s young stars have to shine under the brightest lights in the sport. The Celtics roster enters this series with a combined zero games of Finals experience. The Warriors, meanwhile, have a combined 123 games in the Finals. The C’s have thrived throughout these Playoffs when they jump out to huge leads and punish teams with their league-leading defense. However, we know from experience that Golden State is more than capable of erasing a twenty-point deficit in a matter of minutes. Like most championships, it’s going to come down to heart. Boston has to play with a sense of desperation as though this will be their only shot at a championship. If the 2012 OKC Thunder are any example, Tatum and Brown can’t assume they’ll have another chance.

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These NBA Playoffs have been historically bad thanks to a plethora of blowouts and a complete lack of crunch time minutes. This series between the Warriors and Celtics, hopefully, will be a back and forth battle that goes the distance.

Wavypick – Warriors in 7

Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off in San Francisco this Thursday, June 2nd at 6:00 PM PST on ABC. Be sure to let us know your predictions in the comments section below!

Lastly, NBA Considers Adding New Franchises in Seattle and Las Vegas.

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