PBT Podcast: Celtics vs. Warriors NBA Finals preview

After seven months of basketball, we have finally reached the 2022 NBA Finals. The #2 seeded Celtics will represent the Eastern Conference and face off against the #3 seed Golden State Warriors, representing the Western Conference. This is the Warrior’s sixth NBA Finals appearance over the last eight years, and for the Celtics, it is the first time they have reached the NBA Finals since 2010. Before we get into a breakdown of both teams, look into some interesting, fun facts.

*This is the fourth time the Warriors have faced a rookie Head Coach in the NBA Finals (Ime Udoka); the other three are David Blatt, Ty Lue, and Nick Nurse. The Warriors are 1-2 in those NBA Finals.

*Then these two graphics relate to each team, this one to the Warriors.

Then there’s this one in favor of the Celtics.

Whether you believe in those interesting stats to determine your winner of this year’s NBA Finals, let’s get into a breakdown of how each team can lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The Celtics win the Title if….

  The Celtics will be the best defensive team the Warriors have faced all season long. They can switch one through five, with every single one of their players getting a vote on the All-NBA Defensive Team. They have size, length, and versatility that I haven’t seen from an NBA team since the 2004 Pistons. According to this graphic, the defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart, will draw the Steph Curry assignment, which has gone pretty well. 

They can also match the Warrior’s “Death Lineup”; they can either go with Robert Williams, Al Horford, or Grant Williams at the center spot. My guess is that you are going to see a lot more Grant Williams in this series due to his ability to knock down the three-ball (40%) 

The most significant advantage that the Celtics have over the Warriors is that they have nobody you can confidently go out defensively. This can not be said for the Warriors; the Celtics have too many good one-on-one players not to go at Jordan Poole and Steph Curry every time they are on the floor. I feel Stever Kerr will go more to Otto Porter Jr. and Jonathon Kuminga over Poole in these Finals due to his inability to defend in such a high-stakes series. If the Celtics can avoid the inevitable Warriors 3rd quarter runs that they get on, the Celtics should have no issue closing out games and winning this series.

 

The Warriors win the Title if….

They continue to do what has gotten them to six of the last eight NBA Finals; rely on their depth and experience. While you could argue that the Celtics have the better starter five in this series, they certainly are not as deep as the Warriors. Steve Kerr is never afraid to play any of his guys in big situations, and you saw that in Game 5 against the Mavericks as he played Nemanja Bjelica for the first time in that series in a pivotal moment. The Warriors can go nine to ten deep which over a seven-game series gives Steph, Draymond, and Klay a lot more rest than Tatum, Brown, and Smart can get.

Tempo in this series might be the essential factor in determining the winner. Both teams love to play slow and use the clock when in the half-court, but each team will pounce anytime there is a fast break opportunity. The Warriors must get out and run and create accessible opportunities in the fast break because it is challenging to score on the half-court against the Celtics. 

Lastly, Steph is Steph. It is no secret that three-time NBA Champion Steph Curry doesn’t have a Finals MVP on his resume. If he plays to the level that we all know he can reach, the Celtics don’t have enough firepower to keep up with the Warriors. The series will come down to the wire if he struggles, like in the 2015 and 2016 NBA finals.

So Who Wins and Why?

In the Curry, Green, and Thompson era, when all three start and finish a series, they are 14-0. Yet, I think this is the time that the unbeaten streak ends. The Celtics have had success over the Warriors the past couple of seasons, going 5-3 against them; the only team to have a winning record over them over that amount of games. The Celtics are too good defensively and undoubtedly have had the much more challenging path to the Championship, and I think it ends with the Celtics getting championship number seventeen.

Prediction: Celtics in 6

Finals MVP: Jayson Tatum

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