NBA Finals 2022: Three reasons Celtics can beat Warriors, including Boston’s hunt for Stephen Curry


NBA Finals 2022: Three reasons Celtics can beat Warriors, including Boston's hunt for Stephen Curry

With the Boston Celtics winning Game 7 over the Miami Heat on Sunday, the 2022 NBA Finals matchup is set. The Celtics, No. 2 in the East, face the No. 3 in the West, Golden State Warriors.

Game 1 is scheduled for Thursday in San Francisco. The Warriors are favored (-155 to Boston’s +135, according to Caesars Sportsbook), but I’ll take the Celtics in seven. I think they go very well with Golden State. Here are three areas where the Celtics can work to their advantage to win the 2022 NBA Championship.

1. Celtics Switching vs. Warriors Movement

Not only is this Celtics defense arguably one of the best in modern history, it’s also perfectly suited to thwarting all of Golden State’s off-ball moves. Boston is changing everything that’s making life difficult for Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole as they attempt to clean screens and deceptions. That is reflected in the numbers.

The Warriors aren’t a big matchup chasing team, which is good because there really isn’t a weak link to chase in Boston’s defense (one might argue, Grant Williams in space). It’s going to be tough for the Warriors to look consistent on the halfcourt. Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, all of these guys can disrupt Curry to some extent in one-on-ones, and Al Horford defends well on the perimeter, so it doesn’t matter how Curry or Poole ends up in late -Clock situations.

Golden State will want to operate early in the shot clock, but depending on how well Boston recovers from shooters, many possessions could drag on longer than the Warriors would like — at this point Boston has the advantage.

And that’s not to say anything about Golden State’s propensity to turn the ball around. Boston will put a lot of pressure on the ball. They will chase and double and recover and switch. They’ll grab and hold like Miami grabbed and held them. Will the Warriors find enough space as the series progresses to really get their shots going? In spurts, of course. But over the long term, I think Boston’s defense is causing a lot of problems for Golden State.

2nd Open Season on Steph

While the Celtics don’t offer the Warriors a weak defensive link (depending on how much time Payton Pritchard sees in this series), Boston will go straight for Curry and likely Poole as well.

Boston spent quite a bit of time seeking preferred matchups against Miami, and the team thrived. Golden State handled it well as Luka Doncic frequently took aim at Curry with pick and rolls in the last round; They didn’t want to switch Curry to Doncic, just as they didn’t want to leave him to defend Tatum or Brown in the finals, so they let Curry Show/Hedge against Doncic just long enough to stop his momentum for the original defender to recover You yourself as Curry raced back to his assignment.

There are weaknesses in those fractions of seconds of recovery. All those hedges and wing reinforcements sinking into the lanes will open up shooters and secondary playmakers for Boston, which in that regard is simply better equipped to punish Golden State than Dallas was. Jalen Brunson isn’t Brown, even if you factor in Brown’s inability to dribble coherently at times. Smart, White, all these guys will play out of dribbling if they consistently catch with leverage in their favor. Boston steps into color with great success when determined to do so.

If Tatum, who created great shots for teammates on the stretch in Game 7, and Brown are able to use the attention they’re drawing to line up teammates for a clean look, the Warriors won’t like to play doubles teams, do have a dilemma on their hands by asking Curry and/or Poole to guard straight ahead while Boston has far fewer defensive pressure points (I’d argue it doesn’t have any) for Golden State to continue.

3. Size matters

The Warriors were statistically a better rebounding team than the Celtics in the postseason, but look at the matchups. Golden State played a small Dallas team and a Memphis team that was without Steven Adams for half the series (when Adams was playing, he injured them during his 12 offensive rebound minutes at the glass in Games 4 and 5). Boston has had to contend with the Bucks and Heat, who are crashing a lot harder than their small lineups suggest.

In this matchup, the Celtics – with Horford and dependent on the health of Robert Williams – can play bigger than Golden State, which was played great by Kevon Looney (who completely flipped the script for Adams in the game 6-clincher) 22 boards, including 11 offense to just one for Adams) but will obviously go small quite often with Draymond Green in the fives.

Nobody at the Celtics chases offensive rebounds like Adams, but when Looney has to play big minutes to keep Boston on the glass in check, it dampens Golden State’s offensive firepower, and really, how many minutes can Looney get in the fight against Horford and the two record Williams over a seven-game streak? Also, Horford will largely stretch Looney out of color in big lineups.

Draymond Green will obviously fight, and Andrew Wiggins is a solid positional rebounder (as is Curry), and the Warriors are more than capable of holding their own in this matchup, or even winning the rebound fight (offensive rebounding has never been so difficult). with all the long rebounds from 3-point shots to forecast).

But Boston has a chance on paper to assert some physical dominance on the boards (while understanding it will try to get back in transition to locate Golden State shooters). And when that’s the case, the creation of consistent second-chance opportunities combined with the two-way perimeter size that Boston offers adds up greatly across a series.

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