After one of the more interesting playoff runs in recent memory, the last stage of the NBA’s postseason has finally arrived. The Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors will slug it out for the biggest prize in basketball, the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Celtics come into the series attempting to win their (league record) 18th NBA championship. The Warriors are headed to their sixth finals appearance in eight years, hoping to snag a fourth title in the process.
The Finals will provide us a classic matchup of the unstoppable force versus the immovable object. Which team will blink first?
Keys To The Series
Boston’s big three – Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart – will have to provide a steady jab of scoring in this series. They can’t have the off and on consistency of all the previous series: all three will have to make a difference in the scoring column from start to finish.
Boston should utilize their strength and size to get buckets inside. When Golden State goes small (and they will), the Celtics have to make them pay inside with set post up iso plays and pick and rolls to the basket. The cuts and dives to the basket worked effectively for Boston in the last series.
The Celtics will have to find a way to withstand the ferocious late game runs by the Warriors. Golden State has scored a total of 506 points during the fourth quarter during these playoffs. If Boston can’t sustain their defense throughout the entire game, they will have a tough time pulling out wins in this series.
The Celtics must stay vigilant on defense and not commit silly fouls. Stay away from lazy swatting at the ball and trust their rotations. Boston has let teams back into a few games with untimely fouls that sparked runs or kept runs going.
The Warriors are averaging 114.5 points per game, shooting just over 49% from the field during the playoffs. Not relying solely on long range jumpers has benefitted the team during the postseason and they have been very good at finding their way to the basket. That kind of consistent shooting is as hard to match as it is to stop.
Steph Curry (25.9 points, 6.2 assists per game) and Klay Thompson (19.8 ppg) will surely be Boston’s main focus on defense. They will have to continue to find a way to shred the Celtics’ defense like they have other defenses throughout the playoffs.
Golden State has to scale back their turnover rate in the finals. The Warriors are averaging 14.8 turnovers per game during the playoffs. The Celtics have proven they will convert turnovers into points and the Warriors don’t want to give them any assistance when it comes to scoring.
Keeping the Celtics off of the offensive glass will be a big part of stopping them. Boston has been great on the boards and the second chance points have helped them keep the lead when they’re ahead.
Andrew Wiggins is averaging 15.8 points and 7.0 rebounds during the playoffs. The Warriors will rely on his perimeter defense and timely shot making, especially during those late game runs.
The Celtics’ Al Horford is a player who could provide much needed outside shooting for Boston as well as defense. If he gets cooking, the Warriors will definitely have to shift attention away from the primary Celtic scorers.
As good as Boston is, I can’t see them putting an end to the Warriors run. I’ll take Golden State to win the series, 4-2.