We are down to the final two teams left in the 2022 NBA season. The Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics are the teams standing and will compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Warriors got here beating the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, and the Dallas Mavericks. They will be playing for their fourth championship in the last eight years. The Boston Celtics beat the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Miami Heat – looking to win its 18th championship in franchise history. This will be a chess match as these are two of the best defensive squads in the NBA. Both teams have multiple guys who can step up in big moments. I expect a good series and here are my keys to the NBA Finals and prediction.
Warriors’ Offense vs the Celtics’ Switch Heavy Defense:
No team in the post season switches at the frequency the Boston Celtics do. According to Second Spectrum, the Celtics switch on defense 44% of the time. In comparison, Warriors’ opponents have switched against their offense about 31% of the time through the first three rounds. Boston has size and versatile defenders with length. This could give the Warriors some problems. Boston’s defense hasn’t seen an offense in which its star players move without the ball the way that Steph Curry and Klay Thompson move. Golden State’s offense ranks second in both ball movement and player movement, and its offense is first in assist percentage – assisting on 67% of their field goals. The chess match here will be fascinating to watch.
Home Dominance vs Road Success
The Warriors are undefeated at home throughout this postseason while the Boston Celtics are 7-2 on the road in the playoffs. Boston has been a better team on the road than at home during the postseasons. The Celtics beat the Bucks in Milwaukee down 2-1, then down 3-2 before closing them out at home and then won 3 games in Miami to defeat the Heat. The Warriors have homecourt advantage so if Boston is going to win the Finals they must win 1 game on the road, but the way that Boston has struggled at home at times they may need to win in San Francisco twice to hold up the championship trophy.
The Warriors are playing in their sixth NBA Finals in eight years. They’ve tasted success and have also tasted defeat. For the Warriors’ core group know exactly what to expect – from the media hype, to the pressure of playing in the game’s biggest stage. For this Boston Celtics group, this is their first time going through this experience. We saw the Celtics struggle during clutch moments, most recently nearly collapsing in the last three minutes of game seven against Miami. If Boston makes similar mistakes vs this Warriors team, they won’t be so fortunate.
X Factors for the Warriors
Andrew Wiggins has had a very good postseason as a two-way player. Wiggins will most likely be given the task of defending Jayson Tatum. When Wiggins plays well the Warriors are very hard to beat. Getting Gary Payton II back, who has been out since the series against Memphis with a broken left elbow, will also be huge for the Warriors. Payton hangs his hat on defense and is someone who could make a big time play on the defensive end that could be the difference in a game.
X Factors for the Celtics
If Robert Williams can remain healthy and productive, he can be a difference maker for Boston. Williams is one of the better rim protectors in the league and his athleticism makes him a viable lob option in the pick and roll. When the Warriors go to their death lineup, Udoka may opt to keep Williams on the floor due to his athleticism over Al Horford.
The Celtics will pose a formidable challenge against the Warriors and if they play at their best they can win this series. One huge concern is the way they performed in clutch moments at times this postseason. Some of the mistakes they make are head-scratching. The Warriors’ core has been here several times, and Steph Curry and Klay Thompson want this championship badly. Curry knows that a Finals MVP is the only thing missing in his resume and he is hungry to get his first Bill Russell trophy. Klay Thompson has performed well in close out games and I believe “Game 6 Klay” will return to give the Warriors their 4th title in six games.