NBA Finals Preview: Warriors vs. Celtics


(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The NBA Finals are set. The Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics will meet in a best-of-seven series to determine the 2022 NBA Champion. This is a battle of two historic franchises, both looking for a chance at ultimate glory.

Boston and Golden State took very different paths to get here. Both squads have been among the league’s best over the past 10 years. The Warriors have won three rings and been to six Finals since 2015, while the Celtics have been perennial playoff contenders but have not broken through to the Finals until this year.

Who will win? Who gets the Finals MVP? What will this matchup look like, how many games will it go and how will it stack up against Finals from the past few years?

Scouting Boston

The Celtics had a roundabout path through the Eastern Conference, starting with a challenge from Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. While many teams positioned themselves to dodge Brooklyn in a potential playoff matchup, Boston welcomed the chance to get revenge against the team that beat them last year. All four games of the series were close, but the Celtics won every time, earning a shocking sweep against a team that many had tabbed as title favorites before the season.

Boston then matched up against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo is nearly impossible to stop, but after losing co-star Khris Middleton to injury in the first round, the Bucks ran out of gas. It was still a thrilling seven-game series, and the Celtics came out on top, knocking Milwaukee out in the second round.

An already impressive playoff run for Boston then found them against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Another seven-gamer followed, again with Boston coming out on top. Jimmy Butler fought valiantly, but the Celtics proved too much for a very tough Eastern Conference opponent.

That puts them here. Their first finals trip with this core: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Marcus Smart. Boston is a great defensive team, boasting the DPOY in Smart and multiple players who were in All-Defensive team consideration. Tatum is blossoming into a superstar and is among the best in the league on both ends of the court. Brown has been shooting the ball well recently and is another great two-way player. Horford is the glue guy and veteran who is making his first trip to the Finals after 15 seasons.

This Celtics core is hungry and well managed by first year coach Ime Udoka. They play hard and defend like their lives depend on it.

Scouting Golden State

The Warriors dispatched the MVP, Nikola Jokić, and the Denver Nuggets in five games in the first round. Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry shot the lights out and looked unstoppable, while making Jokić look mortal for most of the series.

Up next was a hard-fought, physical, hostile series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant suffered an injury midway through the series, but Memphis did what they’ve done all season: competed without Morant. The Grizzlies made life tough on Golden State, but the Warriors adapted and countered what Memphis threw at them and came out on top after six bruising battles.

The Western Conference Finals featured a surprising Dallas Mavericks team following their upset over the Phoenix Suns. Led by Luka Dončić, the Mavs made it as far as they could have, but were clearly outclassed against this Warriors team. Dončić was incredible, but Dallas struggled to shoot efficiently and fell in a tidy five games to send the Warriors to the Finals.

Every NBA fan is familiar with this Warriors core by now. This will be their sixth Finals trip in the last eight years, a feat matched only by the Michael Jordan Bulls of the ‘90s. 

They’ve retooled their roster a bit since the last time they were here, adding key contributors like Andrew Wiggins, Poole, Otto Porter Jr. and others. Golden State is also getting healthy at the right time with Porter Jr., Andre Iguodala and Gary Payton II all due back sooner rather than later.

Wiggins and Poole have both been incredible this playoff run, and are key to the Warriors hitting their ceiling. Thompson has returned from injury looking as good as ever, Draymond Green is still the best and most versatile defender in the league and Curry is playing at his usual MVP level. There’s a reason this team won three titles and competed for two more, and it’s not just Durant. They won before him, they won with him and they’ll have a shot to win after him. This group has experience, talent and coaching matched by few squads in NBA history. Welcome to a dynasty, folks.

Who Will Win?

Golden State, in my opinion, has the experience, coaching, talent and preparation edge over Boston. Both teams have looked great this postseason, but the Warriors have romped through a Western Conference that nobody knew what to make of before the playoffs started. Curry, Thompson and Green is a core you cannot count out at any point, and when those three are on the court together, good things are going to happen.

Tatum and Brown, Boston’s two best players, are both still so young. They’ve never been this far before, and I fully believe they will be back on this stage multiple times before this team is done. As mentioned above, Tatum has entered the echelon of full-fledged superstars in today’s NBA.

I have concerns about how Boston’s defense will deal with Golden State’s switch-heavy motion offense. Golden State has very strong positional defenders up and down the roster, especially with Iguodala and Payton returning. The defense is a well-oiled machine with Green leading the way, and Tatum can be forced into inefficient shooting nights. He’s a star, but he’s still young and learning. One or two bad games in this series is not out of the question. It happened earlier in his playoff run. 

Robert Williams has not been consistently healthy. Smart has been banged up and so has Tatum. Golden State is on track to have their entire roster suited up, sans James Wiseman, for the first time all season.

This Warriors core is ready to win another ring and continue to cement the Hall Of Fame legacies for Curry, Thompson and Green. Boston is a good matchup, but ultimately I argue that their inexperience, as well as the shaky, predictable offense will be their undoing here. They won’t score consistently on Golden State, and the Warriors can mix up Boston’s defense into good looks for the Splash Brothers. Their backcourt line, outside of Smart, has no chance against the movement and off-ball cuts. They’ve never played against anything like this in the Eastern Conference.

Warriors in five.


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