The 2022 NBA Finals should be one of the more entertaining NBA Finals in quite a few years. On one side, we have the Golden State Warriors, led by Steph Curry, who have pretty much had their way with each opponent through the first three rounds, looking to win their fourth championship in eight years. On the other side, we have the Boston Celtics, led by Jayson Tatum, who have proved all the doubters and naysayers wrong (some would even say defied the odds) up to this point, looking to overcome one last obstacle on their journey to the NBA’s mountaintop.
The Warriors boast the best offense in the playoffs, with an offensive rating of 116.1 while averaging 114.5 points per game. On the flip side, the Celtics have been a top-two defensive team in the postseason with a defensive rating of 105.1 and holding opponents to 49 percent effective field goal percentage–best in the league during the postseason run.
When the playoffs started, the Boston Celtics weren’t expected to make it this far. Still, a mixture of solid play and good fortune has them back in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, and many believe they have a legitimate chance to take down Golden State in the battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Some believe that Golden State will wipe the floor with the Celtics, while many believe the Celtics will have a fairytale ending to this Cinderella story; Let’s see what the “experts” here at Multiplicity think.
Multiplicity has a plethora of incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining basketball minds, so I’m going to leave the advanced breakdowns of the upcoming NBA Finals matchup to them. What I will leave you with is this:
"I got you today”
Jayson Tatum sent a message to Kobe Bryant before Game 7 ♾🐍 pic.twitter.com/mMkOPGGI1M
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 30, 2022
As loveable as it may be, this is massive imposter energy. The purple armband is one thing (Celtics fans, are you REALLY letting your star rock your rival franchise’s colors?). Still, anytime a player recreates an iconic championship moment from one of the all-time greats BEFORE THEY’VE WON A CHAMPIONSHIP….it ends poorly. Congratulations on winning the Eastern Conference Finals, Jayson. An ECF MVP trophy is quite a bit different than the Larry OB.
There are levels to this.
Warriors in 5. Finals MVP: Steph Curry
We know how good Golden State is; I won’t rehash it here. The Warriors’ experience in this spot is important, but championship experience is overrated in sports—just ask the Kansas City Chiefs. I think Boston will be fine.
An interesting stat, the Warriors have been a bad first-half team (-18 first-half point differential in the playoffs) but have been able to recover, particularly in the 4th quarter. But something will have to give against Boston (+82 first-half point differential), who has outscored opponents 27.2 to 25.56 in the fourth quarter during the playoffs. Golden State is 3-4 when they’ve trailed in the first half.
As of writing Golden State is 3-4 on the road in the playoffs with a -44 point differential. Boston is 7-2 on the road with a +60 point differential and hasn’t lost back-to-back games since January.
If it’s not already clear, I’m taking Boston. They’ve done enough to prove themselves with the gauntlet they faced in the East, and I’m confident the Celtics will win a game in Chase Arena, and I’m even more convinced the Warriors don’t win one in TD Garden.
Pick: Celtics in 6. FMVP: Jayson Tatum
The Warriors versus Celtics is an interesting matchup considering the two are elite on both sides of the basketball. When Draymond Green plays for the Warriors, they have a top-three defense in the league. The Celtics were the best defensive team after January 1st. Both teams have elite shot makers as well. They are about the same in 3-point shooting percentage and rebounding in the playoffs.
For me, the matchups (which doesn’t mean they will guard each other) are as follows; Steph v Tatum, Klay v Jaylen, Horford v Draymond, Smart v Wiggins, and White v Poole. I believe whoever can win more of those individual matchups wins this series. I love Steph, but I think the Celtics may have finally broken through.
Celtics in 7, Finals MVP: Jayson Tatum
The Celtics showed great resolve in beating the Heat, but the fact that it got to that point should be concerning. The Heat were hurt and left scrambling for answers on the offensive end. So how did the Heat manage to take that series to a seventh game despite struggling to score? Simply put, the Celtics’ offense stunk in stretches and, especially, in late-game situations.
By doubling Jayson Tatum early in the clock, the Heat forced the ball out of his hands and were more than willing to live with Marcus Smart jump shots. I think the Celtics are one ball-handler short, and the Warriors are not the team you can afford to stall out against. Defensively, the Celtics match up better than you think against the Golden State offense, but I trust Curry to be the best player in the series and close the Celtics out in 6.
Warriors in 6. FMVP: Steph Curry
The Golden State Warriors have been the best organization in basketball over the last eight years. They have a Hall of Fame coach, three Hall of Fame players, and the owner and management are the best in American sports. It’s everything the Boston Celtics want to be. Golden State has the best player in the series, but the Celtics have THE players (Jayson, Marcus, Jaylen, and Al) who finally got over the hump together.
The Celtics matchup extremely well defensively, and they have to find a way to have their best offensive series of the Playoffs. If they don’t, Golden State wins in 5, but I think the Celtics have another level with all the pressure being off of them, and the two Jays have the most confidence they have ever had in their career. Boston will have to win two games at Chase, and I think they can do it. Next October, another banner will be going up in the Garden to kick off the NBA 2022-2023 season.
Celtics in 6. Finals MVP: Jayson Tatum
The Celtics have the size and length on the perimeter to cause fits for Golden State’s guards and the athleticism and defensive IQ to protect the interior. Although the Celtics are stellar on defense, they struggle to generate consistent offense. You never really know what you’ll get from everyone outside of Tatum and Brown. There lies the biggest problem for Boston. They’ve benefitted from playing against teams with significant injuries and similar offensive weaknesses, and Golden State is a different beast. For the first time all postseason, the Celtics will face a team with a versatile offense with multiple elite scorers. And to make matters worse for Boston, all of the Warriors’ best players are healthy.
Both teams are elite on the defensive side, but in the end, Golden State’s offensive firepower, coupled with their experience on the big stage, will prove to be too much for the Celtics to overcome. I expect the Warriors to make quick work of the Celtics, but something tells me Tatum and Udoka will put up a fight. Steph will be the best player on the floor more often than not, but the voters will somehow find a way to screw this up AGAIN.