There’s clearly a ton of offensive talent in this series, but it’s going to be a gritty defensive chess match as well. Boston and Golden State ranked first and second, respectively, in defensive rating this season. The Celtics have stellar guard defenders in Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and Derrick White, partnered by long, switchy forwards in Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Grant Williams, with Al Horford’s schematic versatility and Robert Williams’ shot-blocking to anchor them. Boston can switch up its schemes, and should embrace different approaches (from switching to drop coverage — at least against the Warriors’ ball-handlers besides Steph Curry) to see what they can do to contain Curry, Klay Thompson, and breakout scorer Jordan Poole.
It would be hard to create a better duo of defensive guards to throw at Curry than Smart and White. Curry’s range is obviously unmatched and there’s nothing anyone can really do once he gets hot. But can Smart and White, with their quickness, size, length and impressive screen navigation, do just enough to bother Curry’s attacks off the dribble and limit his touches at all? Against Curry’s shifty movement and the Warriors’ off-ball screening actions, the Celtics’ defenders will be frequently tested.
Equally, how Draymond Green and Co. look to handle the Celtics’ array of scorers will be interesting to watch. Andrew Wiggins has been playing really well in his complementary role at both ends of the floor, and will need to bring his best defense yet to help contain Boston’s rangy wings like Brown and Tatum.
The Steph-Klay-Draymond trio will be going for their fourth championship together. Curry, fresh off winning the NBA’s Western Conference Finals MVP, will also be going for his first Finals MVP award. Meanwhile, the Celtics will be returning to the Finals for the first time since 2010, when they lost 4-3 to the Lakers.
After the Warriors looked like the league’s best team early in the season, the Celtics reached that level in 2022 as new head coach (and former Sixers assistant) Ime Udoka made some adjustments and their chemistry came together. Now, both teams have a real chance to win the title.
From the storylines to the defensive matchups, there’s a lot to look forward to in what should be a competitive NBA Finals. Enjoy following along in the comments.
When: 9:00 pm ET, June 2, 2022
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, CA