Finals preview: Celtics hit, Warriors clash for title in 2022
Stephen Curry has the opportunity to own the championship stage, while the big boys of Boston are underwhelmed in the duel in this Finals.
The Warriors don’t need directions to get to the 2022 Finals as they’re making their sixth appearance in eight years. It’s hard to forget that route when your GPS stays up to date even after two dry seasons, and it is: Having Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green around for another ride doesn’t hurt either.
The turning point this time around is that the Warriors are bringing in a whole new supporting cast, made possible by the surprise of Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins. The one who made 11 appearances in the NBA G League last year, the latter has been stuck in the prison of fame. Not only have they excelled beyond expectations this season, but they have also shown the toughness needed to thrive in the knockout stages despite their inexperience under the bright lights.
And so the Warriors are back and thirsty for more champagne and qualified to lift the championship trophy for the fourth time since 2015. Their trio of veterans has proven championship and youth and agility. made for a winning combination.
Meanwhile, this Celtics team is also trying to add to the franchise’s title case, one bigger than the Warriors’ – and of everyone else besides the Lakers.
Boston has come a longer way to get here, beating Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, then sweating through a seven-game tie against the defending Bucks and the Heat champions, although it sometimes does. make it harder for you and tighten your resolve. Jayson Tatum is breaking into superstardom and Jaylen Brown has proven himself to be a capable sidekick. Both are excellent two-way players and, together with Marcus Smart, make Boston an elite defensive club.
3 things to see
1. Will Curry finally rise to the top? Not from a team’s point of view – he already owns three titles – but as an individual? Curry has never been the best player on the field in his five Warriors Finals trips, partly because the competition for that honor is tough (LeBron James, Kevin Durant), partly because Curry for reasons somehow seem to be below his own standards and Andre Iguodala is constantly rising. After winning the All-Star and Western Conference Finals MVP this season, perhaps this time the elusive Finals MVP is within his grasp.
2. How much will Draymond Green protect Jayson Tatum? It seemed obvious that a former Kia Defensive Player of the Year would be assigned such a powerful goalscorer. But Green only partially defended Luka Doncic in the previous round, and that task fell mainly to Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins would probably get the Tatum quest if only because he was a better athlete and worked well against Doncic. However, if Tatum gets Wiggins in trouble, Green is the most logical and qualified candidate.
3. Celtics is the bigger team. They need to flex that muscle in ways the Mavericks couldn’t in the West finals against Golden State. Al Horford is having a renaissance and Robert Williams III, assuming he’s fit, is a sports car rim protector. Grant Williams plays big and if need be, there’s Daniel Theis. Boston could exploit this mismatch and force the Warriors to adjust if not completely rethink their small-ball approach.
Number to know
+94 – In their 16 playoffs, the Warriors have been down more than seven points in the first three quarters. But they’re a plus 94 out of quarters. There was some time wasted confusion there, but the Warriors are leading 4-3 in games where they lead after the third round after going 7-19 in such games in the regular season. . In the 26 years for which we have game-by-game data, the only team with a better playoff record in the games they track after the third game (minimum of five such games) is the 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks, which suffered a 6. -4 when following three.
The Warriors are also leading 8-0 having taken the lead after the third round. Over 16 games, they trailed their opponents by 25.4 points per 100 possessions in the fourth quarter, the best record for any team in any quarter in these playoffs, and it would be a good record. second in the last 10 years for a team that made it past the first round. (The only better score went to the 2018 Warriors, which added 30.0 out of 100 possessions in the third quarter of the knockout round.)
This version of the Warriors won the fourth quarter by double digits as many times (six) as the loser (three – once in each sequence). Domination is mostly about offensive ability, with the Warriors scoring 133.9 points out of 100 possessions in those 192 minutes. Stephen Curry played only half of the team’s fourth-half minutes, but his best saves from the field (53%), from the 3-pointers (44%) and from the free-throw (90%) have all been scored. successful. fourth quarter.
The Celtics are the best team in the second quarter of the knockout round (plus 17.2 points per 100 possessions), and even more solid (plus 8.4) in the quarter. With a loss in game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, they are leading 10-1 in the lead after the third round and 2-5 in the lead after the third round.
– John Schuhmann
This series gives the two teams unique stories. Golden State is making a comeback after a two-year absence, Durant through to the finals of 2017 and ’18 MVP Durant’, a pair of serious foot injuries for Thompson and one more season-ending finisher for Curry. But the Celtics could be a team of fate given… (deep breath): their rise since mid-January, Tatum’s ascent, Smart’s defensive impact, a rough ride through the Eastern knockout round and eventually made it through to the finals of that convention. The Warriors have the home field advantage and they’re unbeaten at Chase Center this season, but the Celtics have won seven times en route in the knockout stages, including Game 7 in Miami. Celtics in 7.
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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter.
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