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THE Boston Celtics and the Golden State (then-Philadelphia) Warriors were two of the eight pioneering teams when the NBA began in 1946. Seventy five years later, as the NBA celebrates its milestone season, these two teams will battle it out for the NBA championship.
Will the Warriors’ sure-fire offense dominate? Or will the Celtics’ league-best defense pull it off? No matter which team you are rooting for, this series will be a great ride.
Boston will showcase its defense-heavy lineup with 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, All Stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, fan-favorite veteran Al Horford and dynamic center Robert Williams.
Golden State, on the other hand, will showcase its balanced lineup featuring the “Splash Brothers” in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, breakout star Andrew Wiggins, defensive anchor Draymond Green and reliable big man Kevon Looney.
The frontcourt is going to feature a balanced, hard-nosed battle between two highly physical big men. Tatum has the edge over Wiggins. The two all-time great shooters in Golden State’s backcourt will go against two solid defenders in Boston’s backcourt. On paper, the matchups are fairly balanced. But I give Golden State’s unit the edge just because of their championship experience.
Edge: Celtics Bench
During Boston’s playoff run, they have consistently utilized three players: knockdown shooter Payton Pritchard, Coach Pop-trained Derrick White, and all-around big man Grant Williams. All have had their share of key moments in this year’s Playoffs.
Golden State’s bench has been injury-riddled lately with 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, defensive stalwart Gary Payton Jr., and 3-and-D veteran in Otto Porter Jr. all missing games in the last series against Dallas. Instead, they had to fully rely on sixth man and breakout star Jordan Poole, and two deep bench pieces in Nemanja Bjelica and Moses Moody.
Boston’s bench has contributed to a handful of wins in this playoffs so far. They deserve the edge.
Edge: Warriors Coach
To me, rookie coach Ime Udoka may have deserved the Coach of the Year honors for leading a struggling squad to the Finals. However, the opposite sideline boasts of a battle-tested coach in Steve Kerr who knows how to win in any given situation. Coach Kerr gets the edge.
Edge: Warriors regular season
Golden State won the teams’ first matchup in December at the TD Garden in a close game, 111-107. This was before the Celtics’ emotional turnaround. Boston answered back with a blowout win at the Chase Center in March, 110-88. Steph Curry, however, missed the second half after Marcus Smart infamously landed on his left ankle.
Boston: Can they cut down on the turnovers?
One point of emphasis in the Celtics’ offense is their ability to take care of the ball. In their losses against Miami, they averaged 19 turnovers in those games. In their wins, they averaged only 11.5. They have proven that if they take care of the ball more, they can dominate a game whether at home or on the road.
Golden State: Who will be the third star?
We all know what Curry and Thompson are capable of doing. Considering Boston’s tenacity on defense, and how they locked down KD and Kyrie in the first round, it will be interesting to see who the next man up is for the Warriors. Is Wiggins ready for the spotlight? Will Poole end his breakout season in style? Will Green deliver the goods? The key to the Warriors’ success will be consistent production outside of the Splash Brothers.
Golden State looks like the easy pick in this series because they have the championship pedigree, as well as two of the greatest shooters on the planet. But Boston has the star power to match their production with Tatum and Brown capable of scoring 40 on good nights. Add that to the fact that their defense is seen as the best in the league this year.
I’ll make a bold prediction and say that Boston has the tools they need to pull off the upset. Their defense is elite, while their offense is capable of countering Golden State’s hot shooting. They have a 6-2 road record, and have never lost two games in a row, in this postseason.
I see them stealing a game in San Francisco, while staying consistent on their home parquet. Game 6 will see them clinch their 18th championship in front of their loyal fans. Expect closer games than what we have seen in the conference finals.
Jayson Tatum takes home Finals MVP honors after proving that he can lead a championship team.
Celtics in 6.